“She walked out when he showed her a prenup.”
I usually hear about prenuptial agreements when I’m getting my fill of tea from friends. The delivery is the same as dishing about an unconfirmed celebrity breakup. How else can you say this line if not dramatically? “They broke up because he didn’t want to sign a prenup.”
In my case, I signed one before getting married.
Popping *That* Question
“It’s a touchy subject,” my lawyer brother replied cautiously when I asked him about signing a prenuptial agreement. “Have you talked to your fiancé about it?”
My fiancé is now my husband and, yes, we did talk about it and eventually signed one. In the thick of our wedding preps, he popped the question matter-of-factly: “Are you okay with signing a prenup?”
It didn’t feel like a sucker punch. I was even glad he brought it up. Engaged couples are advised to talk about how they plan to manage their finances and properties before tying the knot, so it makes perfect sense to talk about prenups too. It’s not a "rich people" problem.
Are Prenups Taboo?
Back to the tea I shared in the beginning: Why did she walk out when her fiancé served her a prenup?
“He didn’t talk to her about it beforehand,” my friend explained. Some of us don’t understand the concept of a prenup, and our idea of it is simply based on what we pick up from others who also don’t fully grasp what it is.
That sounds just like chismis, but prenups have even crossed over to taboo territory. If you want to sign a prenup, does that make you selfish? Mistrustful? And if you don’t want to sign one, does that mean you don’t actually love your partner?
When you marry someone, shouldn’t you share everything? Isn’t that what marriage is about?
Do your research
This is your cue to begin doing proper research. This Real Living article about how marriage affects property ownership can help you get started. Or watch Atty. Bernice Piñol-Rodriguez for a quick explainer.
When my husband first broached the subject, I looked up “prenuptial agreement” and eventually learned about the three property regimes in the Philippines: absolute community of property, conjugal partnership of gains, and complete separation of property. My lawyer brother also explained these to me.
I learned that you indicate your preferred regime in a prenup, and if you don’t sign any, you default to absolute community of property. But don’t just take it from me—please ask an expert.
And before that, talk to your partner about the more important kind of prenup, the one that has life-altering consequences (nope, those that show cheesy couple poses don’t count). Why do either of you want it?
My husband proposed something along the lines of conjugal partnership of gains. The assets we acquired before marriage wouldn’t become conjugal property. “I worked hard on my investments on my own,” he said.
I didn’t think it was selfish of him to say that, because he didn’t feel entitled to the assets I acquired as a single woman. I too worked hard on my investments. Keeping our prenuptial assets separate was a declaration of independence before our marriage vows: I am my own person and I have something substantial to bring to the table.
And so I said yes to a prenup. We found a small law office, where we were given a four-page contract to review and sign. It was a boilerplate document just edited to reflect our names and our chosen property regime.
We then submitted the notarized agreement to the parish office where we would get married, so it could be filed along with our marriage contract at the local civil registry in the city where we got married.
It’s just been a month since we got hitched, and now we have shared savings and a shared fund for household expenses. But each of us has our own money to spend on budol buys, collectibles, and gifts for each other.
I am my own person and I have something substantial to bring to the table.
Talk It Out
My husband’s question (“Are you okay with signing a prenup?”) didn’t shock nor offend me. We’re both pragmatic and frank with each other. Shouldn’t all couples be? If you have fears and misconceptions about prenups, among other things, shouldn’t you hash it out with your partner first? You owe it to yourself—a sensible, level-headed adult—to get all the facts straight before making any decision.
If you can’t have no-holds-barred, drama-free conversation with your partner about how you want to handle your assets when you get married, then that should give you pause. And if you think not having to share absolutely everything with your spouse is a selfish move, please think again. Better yet, talk to your partner. Don’t just walk out.
At least not yet.