Popping the prenup question

prenup, man woman agreement
Discussing finances in a loving way is the first step to understanding, our experts tell us. / Moodboard

When news broke about Kris and Bruce Jenner’s separation last week, Steven Eisman, partner and director of the matrimonial law department at Abrams Fensterman, was surprised they didn’t sign a prenuptial agreement before their 1991 wedding vows.

“They both had a substantial net worth at the time of their marriage —  they were both somewhat celebrities,” he says. Years later, after clothing lines, endorsement deals and a reality show, their net worth will be an issue as they head to divorce court.

Considering that the Jenners entered their union with children from former marriages, Eisman says prenups aren’t unusual for second marriages because people want to take care of their children.

Kardashian empire aside, Eisman sees more and more couples walking down the aisle at a later age, which means they’re more likely to have assets to protect. “They say, ‘I love you forever and ever but in case it doesn’t work, I don’t want to share everything I acquired before we tied the knot.’” Sure, it’s his job, but Eisman says it is indeed better to be prepared and realistic.

Kathleen E. Stoner, attorney and co-author of “Prenuptial Agreements: How to Write a Fair & Lasting Contract,” says the cost of a prenup depends on how complicated it is and who drafts it. “High-end premarital agreements involving substantial assets could cost thousands of dollars. In contrast, simpler premarital agreements in some parts of the country might run between $500 and $1,000.”

As for bringing up the sensitive topic with your spouse-to-be, she recommends talking early on and suggests that couples sign the contract at least three months before the big day. Stoner adds, “A prenup that is signed just days or hours before the wedding could be set aside under some state laws.”

Although it’s oh-so-unromantic to talk about finances and properties, she says any relationship will involve money, so the “best thing for people to do is to learn how to have those conversations in a loving way.”

She also says that those conversations have to keep going throughout the relationship — it’s wise to review the prenup every few years to see if it still makes sense. “Some prenups even include a commitment to doing that,” she says.

Stoner says prenups are not for everyone but she believes everyone should consider it and do their research. “Make a well-informed decision about [prenups] based upon the individual circumstances and the laws of [the] state.”

By the numbers:

According to the most recent data, in 2011 there were 2,118,000 marriages and 877,000 divorces and annulments in the U.S.

• Average age of a woman to marry for the first time:
2012: 26.6
1987: 23.6
1962: 20.3

• Average age of a man to marry for the first time:
2012: 28.6
1987: 25.8
1962: 22.7

• The divorce rate for 50-plus crowd is going up: In 2011, 15.4 percent were divorced and 2.1 percent separated.


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