I’m a 37-year-old homeowner and a mom of one — 13 years old — about to get married to a man who would be stepfather to my child. My fiancé, 36, who is moving in with me after we marry, is a widowed parent himself.
He has a home in his home country that we intend to use as a vacation home (it’s paid off), but he would be starting anew here with his credit score, employment, buying a car, etc. He has a master’s degree, as do I, so I’m optimistic he’ll transition well.
“‘I also want to make sure that after he’s established here and finds a job, we’re making good financial decisions.’”
Nevertheless, I too have paid off my home and have no college, car or credit-card debt, as I’ve paid it all off and I pay my current credit-card bill monthly. Again, the same is true for him. I love him and understand he’s giving up (and gaining) a lot by moving to the U.S.
But I want to make sure that after he’s established here and finds a job, we’re making good financial decisions. I’m considering a prenuptial agreement, and want to know what should be included to protect us both.
I no longer have a mortgage, so I’m also wondering what would be a fair way to split expenses. Would it be fair for him to pay most of the household expenses as there’s no mortgage here? Is that fair, considering we’d be vacationing at his home at least once per year?
What else should I consider?
Dear International Love,
You’re marrying and blending your families. You’re also both homeowners, and you have both paid off your mortgages. For that reason, I suggest you split the household expenses equally. You have separate expenses on the upkeep, insurance and taxes on your respective homes.
Every case of cohabiting is different. For instance, I did not suggest an equal split of expenses — with no other expenses — when this gentleman recently wrote to me about how much to charge his girlfriend in rent. They were not settling down, and he still had a mortgage to pay.
A prenuptial agreement is a smart move, especially for people with children. But it’s important to outline all possible outcomes. Prenups don’t outline what should happen to your children if one of you should die, but they do make financial provisions for children and stepchildren.
“‘Under the oversight of an attorney, prenups can specify the division of financial responsibility for each of your children.’”
Under the oversight of an attorney, prenups can specify the division of financial responsibility for each of your children. Do you both contribute equally to your respective children’s upkeep and education? (One caveat: Prenups that are too onerous can be overturned.)
You, for instance, may wish to leave your child your home in your will, but allow your husband a “life estate,” meaning he can live in the family home that you own for the rest of his life. You will also want to update your beneficiaries. (Do you split your beneficiary designations between your child and your husband?)
One note of caution: If your husband contributes to renovations of your home or in any significant way that could improve the value of that property, it could commingle that asset. So you should be careful about maintaining separate bank accounts related to your home.
Good luck with the move, the prenup and the division of financial responsibilities. Love wins, but transparency, planning, mutual respect and coming to an agreement that you are both comfortable with will help ensure a happy and successful life together.
You can email The Moneyist with any financial and ethical questions at firstname.lastname@example.org, and follow Quentin Fottrell on Twitter.
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