My problem is the prenuptial agreement: She feels that after one year of marriage, she should own 30 percent of my house.
I've put all my savings into it; I pay all the bills and do all the maintenance. I support her, and she has a very good job. She invests a lot of her pay, whereas my investment is in my home. She says she should not have to help clean or anything, unless she's put on the mortgage.
I love her and plan for us to be together forever. But if things do go sour, I don't want to lose everything. Is that wrong?
DEAR UNSURE: You're both naturally thinking about your personal security, but fairness and practicality should be the focus here. If she's to own 30 percent of the house, she should be required to pay 30 percent of the bills (while she's working, and not home raising children). Or her personal investments should also be divided such that you receive 30 percent of them after that first year.
Discuss this prenup together with a financial/legal adviser before making your decisions.
YOU ARE NOT wrong. I would first get a cheating clause. Next, I would agree to 30 percent of the house if she allows you the same dollar amount of her retirement investment. I think you should split the cost and hire a prenuptial attorney and have this expert draw up a valid prenuptial that both of you can agree upon.
I PROPOSE YOU sell your house and then both of you can buy a new one with each contributing to the down payment as well as the mortgage payments, property taxes and bills. You can put the rest of your money from the sale of the house into your own investments. Then you can both contribute to the cleaning and maintenance of the home.
If she balks at this, then you have to ask yourself if you both have the same definition of marriage and if you can accept a life where money will always be an issue.
Marriage Is Not a Business
YOU SHOULD SO not marry yet. You're being forewarned of a monster personality clash whose biggest symptom, currently, is a financial dispute. You need to get premarital counseling. If you have, get more. She wants 30 percent after a year's probation, and you're scared you'll lose everything? You're getting off easy. It could've been 50 percent upfront.
Conversely, if she withholds labor to leverage better terms, she either doesn't know how to negotiate maturely or is so mistrustful that negotiation is not an option. This transaction is more like a playground dispute than a mature, trusting partnership. I wouldn't marry either of you.
Where's the Trust?
YOU SHOULD RUN for the hills. This gal you love may love you, but she loves your money more. I did not read she was offering her possessions or money as part of the deal, so I can only assume she is trying to suck you dry. I hope you're not a chump and don't fall for this crap.
A MARRIAGE SHOULD be a partnership, but it seems like you are doing most of the work. It is evident from what you say that she has already established that what's hers is hers and what's yours is hers. It seems that now you are not OK with this arrangement when it comes to your house. I suggest that you tell her the house is not part of the agreement. You had it before you two met and it will not be part of any settlement.
If she refuses to sign the agreement without the house in it, I would think twice about the marriage. A house should not be a deal-breaker for a marriage.
Redo the Deal
THE CONCEPT OF a marriage based on the deepest trust being turned into this kind of negotiation goes against the mind, not to mention the heart. If there is love and trust, then such graphic details about what one will "deserve" if the marriage fails are essentially nonexistent, a moot point.
It's a far cry from prenuptially agreeing to such factors as child support, should a marriage fail, to specifically saying that a year of marriage equals 30 percent house ownership.
In a trusting marriage, the wife's name is often on the house, land and car with the husband's. But is it wise to trust a fiancee who has made such mercenary demands?
Think Before You Wed
I BELIEVE IN prenuptials, especially if children are involved, but this one stinks. If this gentleman's fiancee wants her name on the mortgage, she should put some of her investment money into paying off the principal. Her threat not to clean the house raises a red flag about this relationship. If she continues to insist on this one-sided prenup, I would break the engagement.
IT ISN'T A good idea to plan for a divorce before you're married. Put her name on the mortgage, and have her put your name on her investments. Marriage is about trust. Having a house is a good thing, but it won't give you companionship and love.
Consider a Swap
IF SHE FEELS she is entitled to 30 percent of your house after one year of marriage, you should be entitled to 30 percent of her investments after one year. And if she doesn't want to help clean until she's put on the mortgage, remind her that if she is on the mortgage, she is responsible for half the payment.
If these demands are not within reason for her, I would run as fast as I could, because all she is interested in is getting into your pocket -- not into a lifelong marriage.
In Your Pocket?
HOW CAN SHE feel this way when you're taking care of her financially? It seems that only half of the whole is actually in love. Have you asked her about giving you 30 percent of what your home is worth out of her investments? That way, you guys would be even. If she refuses and you go through with the wedding, you will soon regret it. You're in a lop-sided relationship. She is only looking to gain financially from the marriage.
AFTER YOU'VE MILKED the cow, adding your fiancee on a mortgage after marriage is an act of love.
Smell the Coffee
IF YOUR FIANCEE wants to own 30 percent of your house after a year of marriage, that's fine -- as long as you own 30 percent of her investment portfolio.
Keep It Simple
WITHOUT KNOWING WHAT the financial circumstances are in terms of money, let me try to explain what should happen. You own a home with a net worth of $200,000, for example. You have invested $100,000 in it (50 percent).
She now wants to be put on the mortgage and you see her as your wife for many years to come. Therefore, let her pay the remaining $100,000 while you work on your 401K.
In the end, if and when you sell the property, you both should be able to make a profit.
Let Her Pay Half
THIS HOUSE IS "premarital assets." If his wife-to-be wants to own a percentage of the house, then the fairest way to accomplish this would be to take the value of the house at the time of the mortgage, divide it in half and the new wife should pay her half of the mortgage.
Say the value of the house was $200,000. The husband has paid $75,000 of the principal. That leaves $125,000 of the value of the house. The wife now would owe $100,000 and the man would owe $25,000 of the principal. In this way, if the marriage goes sour, then they could split the current value of the house and part ways.
Divide and Win
Ask Ellie is from the Chicago Sun Times.