Many times, soon-to-be brides and grooms shy away from a premarital agreement or “prenup” for fear that it communicates a lack of trust to their fiancée. Premarital agreements get a bad name from television and movies, which portray them as documents used by the “super rich” to swindle unsuspecting spouses out of everything. The truth about premarital agreements is far less sexy.

A premarital or prenuptial agreement is a legal contract which sets the financial expectations of both bride and groom should one spouse die or should the marriage end in divorce. Indiana law imposes certain rules and presumptions onto people facing a divorce or the death of a spouse if there is no premarital agreement. Entering a premarital agreement prior to marriage allows the spouses to decide what works best for their family. This is often most helpful for people who have been married before and are entering marriage a second or third time. Those people may want to ensure that certain property goes to their children from their first marriage at death or is safeguarded from division in divorce to allow it to be passed to their children later.

A premarital agreement is also a wise move when entering a first marriage when one or both spouses have already accumulated significant assets. U.S. Census figures show that the average age of Americans at the time of their first marriage continues to increase; in 2010, the average age for men was just over 28 years, for women just over 26. Educated, professional people who have acquired assets benefit greatly from the disclosure and discussions that occur during the process of writing a premarital agreement. Discussing what each future spouse has and what each expects financially is a relationship building exercise. It is that “money talk” that is strongly suggested for all marrying couples. While a premarital agreement cannot settle child-related issues like custody and child support in advance, it can establish how financial issues are going to be handled at divorce or death.

Should you get a prenup? As the old saying goes, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” If marriage is in your near future you should speak with an Indianapolis family attorney to discuss the assets you have and what could happen if and when you get married.