Can Our Parents Force Us to Get a Prenup?
When people talk about marriage, they consider all the things they will do for each other when they spend the rest of their lives together. The couple imagines sharing their love, their home and their lifestyles. Yet sometimes the future in-laws may have other opinions when it comes to sharing money or future inheritance.
Your parents, or your future in-laws, may demand that the both of you get a prenuptial agreement. However, you or your spouse may feel uncomfortable about this arrangement. Now, you are worried that the parents will force the both of you to sign the contract, as you are wondering if you will have to get one to make your parents and the in-laws happy.
Can Parents Force You to Get a Prenup?
The simple answer to this question is no. Nobody can force you to either draft or sign a prenuptial agreement. Yet parents can try to influence you or your future spouse to sign one. They may bring up how not signing one will cause family disharmony and angry feelings. They may even go so far as to threaten that they will cut off future monetary help to their son or daughter to help pay for the wedding, buy a house, or name them as a beneficiary in their will.
A Prenup Could Become Invalid
Another thing that parents and in-laws have to understand is that when they pressure or coerce one of you to sign the prenup, this could actually invalidate the prenuptial agreement. Like any contract, a person has to sign the prenup under their own free will and understanding. The prenup could later be contested if the person claims they were pressured to sign it by their spouse-to-be, their in-laws, their own family or by any of their lawyers. You would also be able to argue in a court of law that you weren’t given enough time to consider the prenuptial agreement before signing, or if there is any false or incomplete information where the in-laws and spouse hid the knowledge of assets or property from you.
Why Parents and In-Laws Would Want a Prenup?
You might feel hurt or offended over the in-laws or parents wanting a prenuptial agreement. It might feel like they are betting that the marriage is doomed to lead to divorce even before you have a chance to walk down the wedding aisle. Yet there could be valid reasons on why they are asking for a prenuptial agreement. Normally, those reasons involve an inheritance, a large financial windfall, a family business or a large purchase that the parents plan to make for their adult child.
There are times when there may be an inheritance, business or property that has been in the family for generations. The parents may want this inheritance to stay with their adult children and grandchildren. In these cases, it is normally reasonable for a prenuptial agreement to state a separation of such property, business or inheritance so it doesn’t lead to a costly divorce court battle where the ex-spouse wants half of the inheritance.
Another instance is when the parents decide to provide a large financial windfall to their adult child or will provide money for them to purchase a home. The parents don’t want to take the chance that if there is a divorce, the ex-spouse will try to claim some of the money or the value of the property they provided. They have to watch their adult child leave the home that the parents helped purchase or give half the sale proceeds to the ex-spouse. This situation can make the parents feel as if they are giving over their finances to the spouse as their adult child gets the short end of the stick.
Finding a Happy Balance Between Parents and Prenups
Prenuptial agreements can create hard feelings with everyone involved if there are misunderstandings. Perhaps the best way to handle the situation is to sit down and talk about the prenup and your feelings with your spouse-to-be and the parents. Discuss how pressured and rushed you are feeling to immediately sign the prenup without having an opportunity to read the details or talk things over.
You should also listen to the reasons why the parents, or your spouse, wants to have an agreement in place. You may want to have a mediator at the discussion or to provide family counseling so these hurt and angry feelings don’t follow everyone up to the day of the wedding and beyond.
If you decide to sign the prenuptial agreement, contact a family law attorney to look over the contract to make sure your financial rights are protected. Attorney Gabriel Cheong at Infinity Law Group can draft and review prenuptial agreements for couples. Contact our office today to set up a consultation.
Related: Mediation Tips for Mothers