The behavior of a potential spouse during prenup discussions and negotiations is often extremely revealing. Altman relates how one client broke off her engagement when she learned her fiancé was unwilling to continue raising her toddler twins in the event of her death. "I think a prenup is very indicative of how a relationship might turn out," she says.
Lovers turn out to be unwilling to share a dime, make allowances for changes, or even deal with their own debt. They get pressure from their relatives, who don't want a new spouse to end up with a share of the family business. Will your future partner stand up for you or buckle under pressure? Will he or she be willing to make sure your kids are covered in any eventuality? Tempting as it is to avoid the whole mess, you have to ask.
"There's a poignant moment when one person is doing something with such negativity that an outside party says, 'Whoa, you need to rethink this. I get a feeling this is going to hurt you in the long run,' " says Altman. "I say, better to find out before the invitations go out."
"My advice is to not even announce you're going to get married until you have a prenup," says Nachshin, "because once you have it, you really don't think about it anymore."
Altman recommends starting the discussion before you actually get engaged. That way, no one feels blindsided—and there isn't the pressure of a date or deadline. (As for postnuptial agreements, executed after marriage, Altman says that they often cause more problems than they solve, and legal experts agreed.)