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Donna Estes Antebi

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June Bride Alert: Why Prenups Make Sense

Posted: 06/27/11 11:10 AM ET

June kicks off a gorgeous time of year. As the temperature rises, the bikinis come out, and many of us long for some carefree fun in the sun. But thousands of women aren't dreaming of a mojito-fuled beach party. Their minds are set on something a bit more life altering. June is Bridal Season. Excited brides-to-be are about to embark on the journey of a lifetime -- envisioning love, happiness, and starting a family with the perfect man. But something ominous often lurks on the edge of bridal bliss: the prenuptial agreement.

If your husband-to-be is of substantial means, he may surprise you by slipping a beautiful engagement ring on your left hand while simultaneously slapping a prenuptial agreement in your right. This unexpected presentation of a "prenup" always provides a highly charged emotional challenge for any dreamy-eyed bride-to-be. Dealing with the reality of a divorce settlement before you are even married is gut-wrenching, and frequently triggers a bride to head for the exit door instead of the altar.

There is no need for a prenup to scare you out of a wedding dress. You can use it to your advantage, but you have to understand what you are signing and why you are doing it. Most young brides are years away from fully understanding this negotiation, and many don't realize that a prenup can be a positive thing. A husband-to-be is more likely to be generous when he is head-over-heels in love than he might be down the line if he falls out of love with you, and takes off on a lifetime retreat with his yoga instructor.

Here are a couple things to remember. First of all, distance yourself from fighting with your fiance over this agreement. Have a very experienced attorney review the documents and advise you through the negotiations. Keep in mind that you are entering into a partnership, and what you bring to this marital merger is perhaps not economic power, but is equally important in creating and raising a family. You are negotiating a financial agreement not only for yourself, but also for your future children. What you agree to now may later turn out to be what you and your children have to live with (or without) in the future. Make sure that the economic terms of the post-marriage lifestyle agreement are acceptable in the event that you and your children are on your own. You don't want to devote the best years of your life to your marriage and family, then find yourself and your children financially disrespected -- living in hardship -- while your ex-husband lives the high life with his new replacement wife and family.

Another twist to consider: prenups can protect your finances. A Cornell University study found that men who earn less than their wives are five times more likely to cheat. As a relationship coach, I am seeing an increasing number of cheating husbands who don't (or won't) work. Some of these sorry excuses for men are suing not only for spousal support, but going after sole physical custody of the children (because their wives have to work) in order to collect the maximum amount of child support. Losing custody of the kids to a deadbeat playboy is the last thing any professional woman expected when she got married. A prenup can safeguard a woman's bankbook as well as her children's futures. Modern women have so much to consider!

Although more women than ever are out-earning men (a changing dynamic I discuss in my book The Real Secrets Women Only Whisper) a simple fact remains: When it comes to prenups, it's usually women on the receiving end. The bottom line ladies? Never sell your soul. And don't give it away either.

 
 
 

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