‘She has no ambition’: I make $100,000. I am buying a house before the wedding. My wife earns $50,000 and has $20,000 in student debt. What is a fair prenup?

I have been in my current relationship for almost three years. I am a young woman, 41 years old, and I have a very stable career and make about $100,000 a year. I am ambitious and my expectations are to increase my income by $10,000 every year. I have about $140,000 in savings, and no debt. I am close to closing on a house, which I will have fully financed.

My girlfriend, 38, works a couple of gig-type jobs that she loves and makes $50,000 a year. She has very little savings and about $20,000 in student loans, and can’t afford to buy or help with down payment, closing costs, etc. She lives paycheck to paycheck, pretty much, and because she loves what she does, she’s not motivated to do anything else to make more.

We don’t live together, but we have started discussing marriage and the plan to move in together when I close. My family is not very happy about the relationship for a few reasons. My girlfriend does not have a stable career. She has no ambition, and makes far less than I can.

‘My girlfriend, 38, works a couple of gig-type jobs that she loves and makes $50,000 a year. She has very little savings.’

She understands and said she is willing to sign a prenup. I will also add that my brother is going through a nasty divorce, so the whole family is on edge. We all live in Louisiana – a community property law state – and his cheating and gambling wife is taking him to the cleaners.

Because of all of this, I need help figuring out what is fair for the prenup and our living situation. Regarding the prenup, I was thinking that we include any spousal support or alimony, without any retirement accounts or contributions made during the marriage, and everyone has their own debts incurred during the marriage.

The new house and the mortgage will be in my name alone. Whatever she contributes to the mortgage will be repaid if I ever sell the house — but not if we get a divorce. In addition, she will be reimbursed for contributions towards capital improvements.

‘We will create a family budget that includes joint expenses, mortgage, utilities, groceries and eating out together.’

As far as living arrangements are concerned, we will create a family budget that will include joint expenses such as mortgage, utilities, groceries, eating out together, etc. Until we get married, we’ll split things down the middle. After marriage, we will open joint savings and checking accounts.

We each contribute the same percentage to our checking account to cover the family budget, so I would pay more since I make more. Then we put the same amount each month into a joint savings account to build a joint emergency fund.

I can’t plan for every eventuality, and these are very non-sexual premarital conversations. Is there anything else I’m not thinking about? Does this seem fair to me and my partner?

Wedding Planning & Prenup

Planning dear,

I can answer your penultimate question. The last question is for your partner.

Marriage is many things, but as you say, it is a business contract as well as a commitment to spend the rest of your life together — or, at least, an expression of willingness to do so.

Before I get into the nitty-gritty of your prenuptial agreement, the overarching feeling from your letter is that one person holds all the cards, and another doesn’t get much of a peek. In fact, you mention that your family does not support the relationship, and your fiancé is vaguely — and probably unfairly — compared to your ex-sister-in-law who is not good.

I don’t clearly understand from your letter that you respect and/or support your partner’s choices. If you doubt her willingness to switch to a higher-paying career — rather than one that makes her happy — the differences in your respective attitudes won’t get worse as time goes on, until especially as the economic inequality in your relationship increases. .

Only your finances will be shared forensically. Your letter focused on finances, but I guess I was hoping to read one nice thing about your fiancée. And I’m sure she has many fine qualities.

‘I don’t clearly understand from your letter that you respect and/or support your partner’s choices.’


— The Cashier

There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to prenuptial agreements. It really depends on what each party believes is fair. Your fiancé is signed up, but if you’re repaying her for her contributions to your mortgage if you sell the house, it would make sense (for her) to apply this principle to a possible divorce. Otherwise, she will be punished if you separate, but the result is the same for you. I would say that any percentage your fiance contributes to the mortgage is based on your wages. If you pay $1,000, she pays $500.

There is no mention of spousal support or the duration of any spousal support in the event that you split. That adds to the “yours and mine” theme of prenup plans, and doesn’t take into account the difference in your income. What if you lose your job or are ill for a long period of time? Does your partner get the soft on your mortgage? Are the heavy enough terms of your prenup coming back to bite you? The art of a prenup is balancing compassionate and supportive issues with financial ones.

As you set up a joint account, you should ensure that the money from that account is not used to make significant renovations to your home or that you use joint funds to pay off the mortgage. It is likely that the property would be amalgamated and change from separate property to matrimonial/community property.

Finally, “ambition” is a tricky word, and “ambitionless” are harder words. You are equal in salary to ambition, and your partner is pretty close to the average salary in Louisiana. Ambition can also mean making a living doing something you love.

This prenup protects you. I’m not sure if it does exactly that for your fiancée.

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