I recently overheard a conversation between two law enforcement officers that went something like this:
Guy #1: “Did you hear Smith is getting married?”
Guy #2 “Yeah, he’s so young. We should talk him out of it.”
Guy #1: “We’ll give him a gift certificate for the divorce.” (laughter)
Me: “No! Just tell him to do a prenup!”
Guy #1: “He doesn’t need a prenup. He’s a rookie. He doesn’t have anything.”
That right there is where they’re wrong. Penups aren’t useless for people who “don’t have anything.” Unless you plan on never having anything. But who plans on never having anything? Prenups are very important for people who are going to have something in the future. (And they’re definitely important for people who have something now).
The most important “something” that comes to mind is your pension. The other things that come to mind are deferred compensation plans, that side business you have been thinking about (or started already), a house, an inheritance, just to name a few.
You might be thinking, “I can’t ask for a prenup. My fiancé will flip out.” Or you might be thinking (what most people think), “I don’t need it. We’re not going to get divorced.” (If that one is you, please let me see that crystal ball you have because I would love to see my future too)!
Another misconception about prenups is that your fiancé has to agree that you get everything and he or she gets nothing. Also not true. All a prenup does is establish in advance how things will be addressed if and when the marriage comes to an end. And it doesn’t have to address everything. It could just address one thing (like how the pension will be split – or if it will even be split at all).
Divorces involving law enforcement officers almost always focus significantly on how the LEO’s pension will be distributed. Most LEO’s want to keep it. However, the only way you can keep it is usually to pay the other spouse his or her marital share, which could be hundreds of thousands of dollars. Where is that going to come from? If the other attorney is actually doing his or job, they will also insist that you maintain life insurance to secure his or her share of your pension too since they won’t get it if you die before them.
Do you really want to deal with all of that if you get divorced? (I hope you never get divorced, but what if you do)? If you could have agreed before the marriage that the pension will not be subject to equitable distribution, or have agreed that the non-pensioner spouse would get a specific dollar amount in lieu of a distribution, it would save you thousands of dollars in legal fees, and potentially hundreds of thousands of dollars from your pension. I bet if you ask any LEO who has been divorced, he or she will tell you they should have done a prenup. (Well, they will probably tell you they should never have gotten married, but don’t listen to them). Just do a prenup.