Should you and your partner sign a prenuptial agreement before having a child? We explore this pressing topic.
While most couples sign a prenuptial agreement before getting married, there’s no mention of a written agreement or a baby prenup before becoming parents. But why is that?
Aside from getting married, moving to a new house, or starting a new job (all of which necessitate written contracts), having a child is one of the most life-changing experiences anyone can have. New parents, on the other hand, often go in blind and don’t discuss expectations ahead of time. This can lead to a slew of issues, as one or both parents expect the other to act a certain way or do certain things, such as get up for night feeds, assist with cooking, or go grocery shopping.
If these expectations aren’t met, it can lead to feelings of resentment and hostility between parents, which can snowball into anxiety and postpartum depression.
What is a baby prenup?
While it might sound intimidating, a baby prenup is simply a written agreement between an expecting couple that lays out childcare expectations for both parents before your baby is born.
According to the US-based Pew Research Center, which analyses social and demographic trends, the way mothers and fathers spend their time has changed dramatically in the past half-century. Dads are doing more housework and childcare and moms more paid work outside the home. Neither has overtaken the other in their ‘traditional’ realms, but their roles are converging.
Interestingly, researchers also reported that 56% of working moms and 50% of working dads say they find it very, or somewhat difficult to balance these responsibilities. This means that in the age of modern parenting, which includes many demands, it’s more important than ever for new parents to have a written baby prenup to help them navigate their way through this tricky transition.
Your baby prenup should be:
- A general agreement that’s flexible and not cast in stone. This is because the many theories about what type of parents you should be could fly out the window the minute you have your own baby!
- Fair and provide a framework for you and your partner to have open, honest discussions about your role as parents.
- A living document that allows for changes and progressions as you grow as people and parents. The key is to revisit your baby prenup often and let it open channels of communication.
It should also outline:
- Expectations of both parents. For example, if you expect your partner to make dinner, or bath the baby every night, it should be stipulated, discussed and agreed on.
- Expectations of your relationship and a look at how it might change. Will you still make time for date nights, and if so, how many per week/month?
- What external help might entail. For example, will your child’s grandparents be involved or is paid-help (a nanny or au-pair) more realistic?
- How your social life might change. Will you stick to a sleep/feeding routine or go with the flow and let your little one nap in the pram while you visit friends?
- Your joint financial plans and goals for your family and as individuals. You should also discuss what’s important to save for, such as baby classes, medical bills, school fees, and extra murals later. If nail and hair appointments are important to you during maternity leave, it’s important to discuss upfront how you’ll pay for these.
- If you have more than one child, how will you juggle both and who will step in to help more with your older child?
Golden nugget: Baby prenups will look completely different for each couple, so avoid comparing yours to anyone else’s!