Short answer: It’s not a bad idea.
Prenups have a bad rep, but they’re actually really useful. Lots of people resist the idea of discussing or signing a prenup, because they think signing one means they plan to divorce, or don’t trust their partner.
In many cases, prenuptial agreements can make a painful and lengthy divorce simpler and faster. A prenup lawyer can help you draft an agreement that will keep the interests of all parties in mind. When you’re happily engaged, in love, and planning your life together, the last thing you want to think about is what happens if that life together stops working. But the topics you cover when creating a prenup with your partner are worth discussing in their own right, even if you never use it at all.
Do you or your partner have children from a previous marriage?
If your legal status is complicated by the presence of other close family members or dependents, it may be worth it to sign a prenup. In a divorce without one, your assets could end up divided equally with your ex—and that might mean less money for your kids or dependent family members.
(It’s worth noting that if you and your partner have kids together, you can’t limit child support or custody arrangements in your prenuptials. If you divorce, you’ll make those arrangements then.)
Are you and your partner financially independent from each other?
In California, assets you accrue during the marriage are assumed to be community property unless they are acquired as a gift or an inheritance. If you and your partner are both financially independent, a prenup can dictate how community property is divided during a divorce. For example, you could agree that each of you will keep anything you came to the marriage with, and split community property equally.
(If one partner is dependent on the other and would be left out in the cold by a divorce, however, a judge can choose not to enforce those agreements from the contract.)
Convinced? Great. Now get a prenuptial lawyer.
If not, get one! These agreements can be very complicated, but the benefit there is that they can be tailored to your unique financial situation and comfort level. You and your partner should each hire a lawyer to help you through this process, or you can go see a family lawyer together to write a prenuptial contract that works for you.