What is a Prenup?

What is a Prenup? And How It Could Help You Down the Road

Let’s accept that you are not tying the knot to one day, untie it and get divorced. No one expects their marriage to unravel, but as life evolves, this could unexpectedly happen for whatever reason. And if it does, the fears around the financial burden you might face could make you feel lost and unprotected. What could ease this situation (and act as an insurance policy) is a prenuptial agreement.

In a prenup, you and your partner clarify what you want from the marriage and your financial responsibility to one another. A prenup could protect your future because marriages are closely enmeshed with financial destinies.

This article will explore what a prenup is, the difference between a prenup and a postnup, and the value of a prenup as a tool for women to empower and control their lives — especially if they wish to consider staying at home one day to raise their children.

What is a Prenup?

A prenup is an agreement you have before you get married, it describes what happens to the finances in the case of a divorce.  The agreement allows you to iron out details before bumps arise. Some factors in a prenup can include how you will manage your earnings and what your marital estate’s ownership looks like. If you have an existing loan, it can address whether you will pay off the loan together or separately. Most importantly it determines who gets what after a divorce. 

Understandably, no one wants to bring up the possibility of a divorce when you are selecting your wedding invitations. But think of a prenup as an insurance policy, like car insurance or health insurance. It is meant to protect you.

If you get married and don’t have a prenup, in the case of a divorce, your debts and assets are decided by state laws. A prenup costs money, of course, but it allows you more control over greater sums of money during and after a marriage.

We want you to have a long, loving, and fulfilling marriage.  But sometimes, life throws us some curves. 

Prenup Vs. Postnups

Before we continue with the benefits of a prenup, let’s clarify the difference between a prenup and a postnup, or a prenuptial agreement and a postnuptial agreement. 

A prenup is a legally binding contract that is established before you get married. A postnup on the other hand is created after you are married and typically is used when there is a significant change in financial, marital, or property issues within the marriage.

A prenup is typically more comprehensive than a postnup.

Additionally, a prenup is more enforceable than a postnup if a signer attempts to dispute the agreement. Divorce courts generally assume that coercion is less likely when signing an agreement before marriage than when there is a change later on in the marriage.

Read “7 Things to Know About a Post Nuptial Agreement”

How long have Prenups been around?

Prenuptial agreements are over 2,000 years old, and historically, they benefitted men. A prenup established the bride’s dowry and the price the groom would pay the bride’s family to marry her. The agreements were made by the couple’s parents, rather than by the couple. 

Imagine your financial destiny in the hands of your parents and your spouse’s parents, your in-laws.

A document that was once meant to protect men, however, has become a tool to empower women now.  

A prenup can help you raise your children at home while not suffering financially for it later on.

(Read on.)

If you are considering marriage, remarrying, or your daughters are marrying, we urge you to consider these facts about the gender wealth gap. Reports show that over time men accumulate more wealth than women, it’s that simple. How big is the gap? Reports and research say that for every dollar a white man owns, women overall own just 32 cents. Black and Latina women? Only one penny.

One of the main reasons for this gap is that women are more often responsible for the home and children.

Many women take time off after giving birth to care for their newborn. Among them, many still do not return to work so they can continue to care for their children. Over time, this decision leads to women accumulating less money. 

Recognizing and Compensating Stay-at-Home Parents: The Financial Benefits of a Prenup

A prenup can help equalize the power you have in a relationship and balance that wealth gap by making sure your invaluable work at home is recognized financially.  

If you choose … it is a choice to stay home to raise your children. It is not for everybody. 

If you decide to do it, it can be a beautiful and wildly challenging decision, but it is also an economic decision made by you and your spouse. You will want to remember that.

A prenup could include how you are compensated for the paychecks you sacrificed to care for your children. It validates your role. This is important because if divorce were to occur, some spouses can try to minimize their partner’s claims for support. Bullying statements, commonly heard include, “You were just at home!” “You did nothing.” “You never contributed to the money. It’s all mine.”

It’s not all theirs, by the way.

For more information, consider reading“Do Stay-at-Home Moms Get Alimony?” and “How to Prepare for Divorce if You are a Stay-at-Home Mom.”

We asked New York City divorce attorney, Carolyn Parry her thoughts on prenuptial agreements. And we are pleased that she had much to share:  

“Not every couple needs a prenuptial agreement, but everyone entering into a marriage certainly needs to have a “prenup talk” in that both partners should set out their explicit expectations as to what would be considered mine/yours/ours in a marriage and in a divorce.”

If you have a friend who is facing the potential break up of her marriage, you may wish to share our popular “36 Things to Do If You Are Thinking About Divorce.”

“You will likely be surprised that your soulmate has very different ideas about how assets should be split and how time away from the workforce for child rearing should be compensated.”

“If you and your partner really are on the same page, then why not put those assurances down on paper? Things become much more real–as well as legally binding–when they are in black and white.”

“And speaking of leaving the workforce, please do not be naive enough to think that our court system will reward your sacrifice for your children. If a prenuptial agreement did not seem necessary at the start of the marriage, then maybe a postnuptial agreement now that you are making a major economic decision is appropriate.”


If you are a soon-to-be bride, you are smart and strong to have read this far. If you are considering remarriage, or you are a mother, thank you, too, for considering these words. No one wants to talk about divorce or bad things that might happen. However, unequal situations in our society have created certain circumstances for women. Our eyes need to be wide open when we make important life choices. Taking care of ourselves is the best way to move forward confidently and to make the greatest space for love and the brightest hopes for the future.

Please share this information with your loved ones.


This article discusses what is a prenup and how it might be beneficial for some women who may one day seek to raise their children from home. This was not a discussion on how a prenup could also be used, as a mechanism to lessen a spouse’s claims in a divorce. There are certainly soon-to-be spouses who force an unfair prenup down their partner’s mouth. This scenario is a different article. But we can’t leave it without saying, please don’t let that happen to your mouth. Do not sign a prenup without reviewing it with a lawyer and hearing how your future could be lessened.

Natasha is a third-year law student in Chicago committed to advocating for women’s empowerment in all areas of law. With a longstanding interest in health law, she aspires to work for hospitals and nonprofits in continuing to advocate for women’s rights. Her goal is to address the historical issues that continue to prevail in our society by addressing the social determinants of health. 

Since 2012, smart women around the world have chosen SAS for Women to partner with them through the emotional and oftentimes complicated experience of breaking up and divorce. We invite you to learn what’s possible for you and your precious life. Schedule your FREE 15-minute consultation with SAS now.


*SAS continues to support same-sex and nonbinary marriage. In this article, however, we refer to your spouse as husband/he/him.

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