The Moneyist: My wealthy fiancée wants me to accept ‘standard-of-living’ costs should we divorce. I’m a proud veteran and won’t accept more than $50,000. Who’s right?

United States

Dear Quentin,

I am planning on marrying someone who has a substantial amount of money. I do not have much. I own my home, have a military retirement and work part time. I want a prenuptial agreement and she does as well. We don’t, nor will we, have children.

So what is the issue? I do not want spousal support. If we were to separate, I only want to maintain my full military benefits and the difference between my personal savings (at the time of divorce) and $ 50,000. So if I had $ 45,000 saved, she would only pay $ 5,000.

I have worked very hard for everything I have. I take pride in the fact that I’ve overcome a lot of adversity to be where I am now, and I’m happy with my finances. She wants me to have a “standard-of-living” payment. I want my morality intact, should we divorce.

I think what I’m asking for is totally reasonable. But perhaps it isn’t?

Any advice?

Proud & Practical

Dear Proud,

While I take off my hat to you for being realistic and practical enough to plan ahead, you may both feel differently if you do decide to divorce. You are both acting out of love and pride. Divorces are more often than not tumultuous and costly. Prenuptial agreements, while not perfect, also reflect the state of mind you are in prior to marriage: practical, magnanimous, cautious, optimistic. In this context, fairness is the goal rather than the outcome. Like love, fairness in the eyes of the beholder.

‘Fairness is the goal rather than the outcome. Like love, fairness in the eyes of the beholder.’

— The Moneyist

“A prenup should have both parties represented by separate lawyers and it is vital to make sure there is a complete and full disclosure of liabilities and assets and the marriage is being entered into between two consenting adults,” according to the Canterbury Law Group. “The agreement needs to be fair when it is signed and the enforcement should be fair as well, regardless of whether it is five years down the line or decades later. These are all primary aspects of a good and healthy prenup.”

The law firm also warns: “Some unfair features can include when both parties have to pay their own fees for legal fees during a divorce. Equal divisions of assets obtained in marriage when individual states often have different rules governing the allocation of assets, especially regarding property. Sometimes, agreements state one party will receive a set income in the case of a divorce which decades later can be wholly inadequate because of inflation and the shifting cost of living.”

Without a prenuptial agreement, your fiancée could certainly scale back in a dramatic fashion on her current magnanimous standard-of-living costs proposal. You, meanwhile, might feel traumatized by the financial reversal of fortune in the aftermath of a divorce and realize that $ 50,000 is not that much money after all. Time, experience and a marriage gone awry can turn your lives — and your perspective on who deserves what — upside down.

You’re both right. There is no wrong answer. Perhaps agree to revisit the agreement after five years of marriage in case either of you wishes to make an amendment. You can’t force each other to change the terms of a prenup. Otherwise, it would defeat the purpose of signing one in the first place. However, it may help open up that conversation should there need to be one in the future, and also take the pressure off both of you now ahead of your big day.

You can email The Moneyist with any financial and ethical questions related to coronavirus at

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