Thinking about getting married? You may be wondering if you should get a prenuptial agreement. In this episode, Kimberly Cook, a divorce professional, explains why prenups are for everyone—not just the rich and famous!
Prenups can provide transparency and protection to both parties in case of divorce and even those with fewer assets may benefit from one. Learn more about how prenuptial agreements work, when it’s ideal to discuss one, why post-nuptial agreements exist and what to do if your state doesn’t uphold them.
Tune in now for all the information you need to know about why you should get a prenup!
About Our Guest
Kimberly A. Cook, Esq. is a divorce attorney, Mediator, and founder of Grown Girl Divorce, LLC, a divorce resource company. She is known for successfully negotiating complex financial and custody matters while helping her clients navigate their next steps forward. Kimberly’s expertise and her unique ability to disseminate complex information in a relatable way has made her a sought-after divorce coach, speaker, and podcaster. She truly believes that everyone deserves to be in healthy and happy relationships and is on a mission to educate and empower others to make that happen.
Kimberly earned her B.A. from Spelman College and her law degree from The Catholic University of America. She is a Fellow of the Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, the country’s premier organization for family law practitioners, and an active member of American Bar Association, Jack and Jill of America, Inc., Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, and the Economic Club of Chicago.
She has been featured in various publications, including, The Chicago Daily Law Bulletin, Chicago Lawyer Magazine, Crain’s Chicago, Black Enterprise, Thrive Global, and Business Insider. In recognition of her hard work and dedication to the practice, Kimberly is the recipient of several notable awards, including Crain’s Chicago Notable Minorities in Law, Super Lawyers, and Best Lawyers In America.
Connect with Kimberly
Facebook: Grown Girl Divorce
LinkedIn: Grown Girl Divorce
Intro/Outro: You know what it is. That’s right. It’s time to talk money with your money nerd and financial coach. Now tighten those purse strings and open those ears. It’s the Money Talk with Tiff podcast.
Tiffany Grant: Hey everyone, I am super excited because I have Kimberly Cook on the line and she is amazing. She is a divorce professional and I am just so excited to have her to talk about. Why broke girls, quote unquote should get prenups. So, hey Kimberly, how are you?
Kimberly Cook: I’m good. Thank you for having me. I’m really excited to chat with you.
Tiffany Grant: Yeah. Thank you so much for being here. So let’s just hop right in. Okay. So first and foremost, I was one of those people that thought prenups were only for the rich and famous. Only if you had a lot of money or a lot of things. Do you need a prenup? So let’s just preface this conversation. By explaining what a prenup even
Kimberly Cook: is.
Sure. That’s a great question. And I will say most people right, think that a prenup is only for the rich and famous, but it is in fact not, and we’ll talk about that. So a prenup is a, um, legally binding document or contract that lays out your rights and responsibilities at the time of a divorce, but it is.
Done, entered into, prior to you getting married. And so a lot of times people feel some kind of way, uh, given the timing, but the timing of the signing of a prenup is important because it goes into effect. At the time that you’re married, so you have to get the contract done. You have to outline what will happen in the event.
Our marriage doesn’t work, but it goes into effect, not at the time of execution, which is the signing, but actually. Based on your date of, of marriage, that’s when it’s really goes into effect because that’s when the marriage has started and that’s when, um, we look at what were the assets, what are the liabilities, what are all those great and wonderful things that you acquired during the marriage or co-mingled during the marriage, or wanted to keep separately during the marriage.
And so the prenup gives us the roadmap for that. In the off chance that you get divorced. Ah, so let me get this straight. So a
Tiffany Grant: prenup you put in place beforehand and it lays out everything that you’re coming into the marriage with. So like all your assets, debts, you know, money, whatever. Um, so that way if you do get a divorce, you can reference that document and say, okay,
Kimberly Cook: this is what you came with.
That’s exactly right. So the idea is, To give the court kind of a window into the circumstances at the time of marriage, because if you think about it, we get married and maybe 5, 10, 15 or even 20 years later, right? You get, say divorced and you start to say, well, When we got married, I had this account, or I had this house, or you weren’t making any money.
And I was making money. And, and so, you know, it, it, it really, uh, takes you down a rabbit, h a rabbit hole of he said, she said, whereas a prenup. Gives you the, here’s actually the circumstances at the time that we were entering into this marriage, here’s what we had, right? Here’s what my earnings were, here’s what my job was.
Here are what my debts were coming into the marriage, and so you have a really good window. Of what was going on at the time before we get married because depending on the state where you live, once you get married, you are then entitled to certain rights. Just by virtue of the fact that you’re married.
And so it’s really, really critical to sign it before the marriage to at least have the baseline of, this is what we brought in and now that we’re married here is how we would like to see things moving forward.
Tiffany Grant: Mm. Okay. That makes complete sense. And I get it now because, uh, honestly, I was one of those people, like, I don’t really understand how this even works.
Um, you know, uh, and I do wanna get out the way that this is not legal advice, y’all, so don’t be like, Kimberly said I need to do this. That’s right. That’s right. This is for educational purposes only. Okay. Um, so when you say even broke girls need a prenup, it’s kind of making sense, but what exactly do you mean by that?
Kimberly Cook: Sure. Well, for many years, uh, as a divorce attorney, I would hear people say, I don’t need a prenup because I don’t have anything. Okay. But then I’d start talking to them and they would say, oh, well, you know, I bought a car, or I’m debt free. Or, um, you know, I just started my new job and I have a retirement account.
And so, you know, my response was always, well, you do actually have things and you have things that you would like to. Essentially, I think protect and protect, not in the way of, um, you know, I don’t wanna build a life with my spouse because I think that certainly is a misconception, but really more in a way of, at a minimum I would like to leave with what I came in with.
And so what I tell people all the time, especially women, Sit down right now and write out everything that you have, and that could be anything from. I have, um, a small checking account my parents, uh, gave me for graduation gift, you know, a thousand dollars that I’ve put into an investment account.
Whatever it is you have, no matter how quote small you think it is, write it down. Those things can be protected. And identified in a prenuptial agreement so that at a minimum you’re walking away ideally in that same way that you came in. Now the goal, of course, of marriage is to grow and develop and, and, um, increase, um, together.
And as you draft the prenup, you draft it with the eye of saying, okay, how can we collectively. Again, walk out with a minimum of what we’ve had. But in addition to those things, here is how we would like to split those things that we then acquire during our relationship. So you wanna think of it from the perspective of, as a minimum, I wanna walk away with what I came in with.
Even if I say it’s, you know, not as much as somebody else. Nothing, nothing, nothing is, um, off the table when it comes to your assets and liabilities that should be identified, particularly when it comes to debt. If you are debt free, you wanna write that bad boy down. If your, um, fiance has debt, write that down.
Those things will help you in the long run if you find yourself getting divorced.
Tiffany Grant: Gotcha. Gotcha. Now let’s talk about how we can um, I guess present this idea to our significant other. Cuz you know, a lot of times, you know, you might hear people like, they might be listening to this episode and they’re like, oh, I wanna do that, but I know if I bring this up to whoever I’m with, they are not gonna take it well.
So how do we bring up this conversation and have this conversation with those. We love when it could be beneficial for both of them, both of us.
Kimberly Cook: So that’s the starting point, right? Um, we start from the framework of this is a good thing for both of us. This is, um, us protecting and loving on and being collaborative and working through something together.
But what that really feels like right is not waiting until we have a ring on our finger to bring up the conversation. Okay? Ideally, you’re in a long-term dating relationship, or you are starting to move in the direction of where you think that an engagement is on the horizon. Now’s the time to start talking about real conversations and those real conversations can be, what are your views on money?
What are your thoughts on, you know, if we have children, the responsibilities for each of us. What are your thoughts on, you know, a prenup? Those are the kinds of conversations you wanna start just kind of having, well, before you get kind of engaged, because these are the things that will help you really kind of understand the person that you are saying you wanna share your life with.
But if you have gotten to the point where, you know, Love is moving things and now you’ve got this ring and you wake up and you’re like, oh man, we should really probably talk about this Great thing to do, um, would be to first of all be honest about it and just say, you know, I’ve given some thought to a prenuptial agreement, um, because I want to think about it in a way that makes most sense for us.
And oftentimes people are taken aback because they feel like it’s divorce planning. But I will tell you that it’s very similar to. Having insurance, and let’s think about why we have insurance. We have health insurance, not because we’re hoping to get sick, we have car insurance, not because we are, you know, wanting to get into a car accident.
We have these things because in the event that something does happen, there is a plan in place. There is. Protection and it’s the same with a prenup. And so when you think about talking to your significant other, it’s great to say, listen, we clearly don’t want anything to happen, but this is a great opportunity for us to sit down while we are in love while we are on the same page to really see what.
Would make sense for us if things unfortunately didn’t work out. And it can be, and it is supposed to be a very amicable process, but I will tell you if it isn’t, then that may be the indication that this isn’t the person for you, because this is a process that is very transparent. Everybody comes to the table having to.
Share what they have, both assets and debt and income. And so it is the process by which you will learn all of the financial, um, kind of holdings or lack thereof of your soon-to-be spouse. And I will tell you, in many cases, that’s a real eye-opener for people. Ooh, that is a word. It is, right? If you’re about to share your life with somebody and you have no idea how they manage money, you have no idea.
You know what they earn. You have no clue whether or not they filed taxes in the last five, you know, years. You might need to start asking some questions and having these discussions. And so a prenup forces those conversations. And so even if you don’t go through with the prenup, um, at, you know, at the end of it, it will though, um, put the two of you in a space where there’s a lot of transparency because it’s required as a part of the process.
Mm. And that’s a great thing.
Tiffany Grant: Yes. Yes. I can see how this could be a very intimate conversation and how it can like show some cards, like it can Yes. You know, show some red flags if necessary. So, um, I completely agree with you there. Now let’s discuss. Okay. We already covered people that are engaged or about to be married, but what if you’re already married and you’re like, Ooh, like I should have done this.
Like, are there any things that could be done now that you’re already married, um, in
Kimberly Cook: regards to this? Yes. So there is something that’s called a post-nuptial agreement, and the reason it’s post-nuptial is because it’s entered after the marriage. I will say though, um, if you are considering a post-nuptial agreement, it is critically important that you work with an attorney in your state because not every state, um, will uphold a post-nuptial agreement and a, a part of that is just.
The timing of the postnup, um, proceeding, say a filing for divorce, or if there has been a change in circumstances that you all of a sudden have decided, oh, I want to protect this. That is, that often happens with things like somebody, um, won the lottery and didn’t tell their spouse, they have their spouse, you know, try to sign off on a postnup and then, you know, lo and behold, I.
It’s then learned, oh, you’re now a multi-millionaire, and you had me sign off on a document. So, um, a post-nuptial agreement though it can be done. Um, and it will do the same kind of thing that a prenup. Does, which is to say, here are the things that any event that we were to get divorced, here’s how things will be allocated here, how we are gonna share things.
I keep this, you keep that. This is what we’re gonna do about, um, spousal support Separately. If your state does not do post-nuptial agreements, then there are things that you can do if you have certain concerns about. What’s going on financially in my family, um, and our marriage may not be going in the right direction.
The first thing to do is to really get a handle on the information that you do know, so, Here are all of the assets or liabilities that I know are in my name or that are joint, and start keeping track and writing those things down, pulling your credit report, reading those. Um, and then if you’re filing joint tax returns, don’t just sign off on it.
Make sure that you go through it and, and look at, you know, what income, the sources of income, are there accounts that are listed that are shooting off any kind of distributions or interest earnings that you were unfamiliar with? Is there an address listed that you’re unfamiliar with? So there are some things that you can do if you’re already married.
So, To really kind of organize and, um, you know, look out for your financial, uh, wellbeing on a, going forward, if a prenuptial agreement is not something that you, um, had executed before you were married. Oh man, this is a word y’all. Um, so
Tiffany Grant: we have covered, you know, if you haven’t gotten married yet. If you’re already married and there’s still so many questions that need answers, I’m gonna have to have Kimberly back on the show.
Um, just so we can hit on some more stuff because we’ve only scratched a surface. Y’all of what I wanted to. To cover today. Uh, but if people were interested in learning more about you or, you know, joining you on your platform, how could they
Kimberly Cook: find you? Yes, yes, yes. So, um, grown Girl Divorce, you can find me on, um, the website, which is www.growngirldivorce.com.
You can also find me on, um, my podcast, which is grown girl divorce.com, and we educate and empower. Black women going through divorce. So we talk about all kinds of things including prenups and financial wellbeing, um, on the platform and then certainly on social media at Grown Girl divorce. So please check us out.
Um, let us know any questions that you may have, cuz we wanna make sure that people are educated and empowered as they move forward in these spaces. Yes.
Tiffany Grant: Thank you so much, Kimberly, for leading the charge on this because it is so important and it’s something that isn’t really talked about, like as someone that is, and just being transparent, going through the process right now.
There’s a lot of stuff I had to learn the hard way, let me tell you. Um, so having this knowledge ahead of time is super important and I hope. That the women and even men listening right now, um, are able to get some takeaways from this episode and implement them going forward so they can protect their coins, um, if they decide that they wanna get married.
So thank you so much, Kimberly, for coming on the show today. It
Kimberly Cook: was fun. Yes. Thank you so much for having me. Hopefully, you know, this has added value to someone if at a minimum to just go and do further research in their area. Then we’ve done, you know, um, what we’ve needed to do. And thank you so much for having this platform to help, um, educate people, to protect themselves and to your word, their coins.
Tiffany Grant: Yes. Yes. And if you all missed any of the links that she mentioned, I will have them in the show notes. So go check. That out. Check Kimberly out. Her podcast is amazing. Her information is amazing, and it is well needed out here in these streets. So until next time, I’ll see you all next time. Bye.
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Money Talk with Tiff recently featured divorce professional Kimberly Cook to discuss the importance and benefits of prenuptial agreements for everyone, including those who aren’t wealthy. In this insightful episode, Kimberly also touched upon post-nuptial agreements for married couples. Discover the key takeaways from the conversation and learn why you should consider getting a prenup.
Why Prenups are for Everyone, not Just the Rich and Famous
- Prenups are legally binding contracts outlining rights and responsibilities in case of a divorce but agreed upon before marriage.
- These agreements establish a baseline of assets, liabilities, and income thereby providing transparency and protection.
- Even individuals with fewer assets can benefit from a prenup to protect what they do have and allow them to keep what they brought into the marriage.
Ideal Timing for Discussing Prenuptial Agreements
- Initiating a conversation about a prenup prior to engagement is ideal but can still happen once a couple is already engaged.
- Prenups are meant to be amicable, transparent processes; contentious prenup talks may signal underlying relationship issues.
Post-nuptial Agreements for the Already Married
- For married couples who desire similar financial protection, post-nuptial agreements serve as an alternative but require the assistance of an attorney.
- However, not every state upholds post-nuptial agreements, so it’s crucial to understand your state’s legal guidelines.
Safeguarding Finances in States Without Post-nuptial Agreements
In states that do not uphold post-nuptial agreements, individuals can take the following steps for financial protection:
- Keep track of assets
- Record liabilities
- Monitor income
- Maintain credit reports
- File tax returns
With this knowledge, anyone considering marriage should give thought to the benefits of a prenuptial agreement. Protection and transparency provided by such an agreement can help reduce anxiety and improve trust in the long-term success of a partnership.