I’m a divorced woman and a divorce lawyer who still believes in love, romance, and lifelong relationships.
I also think every person who chooses to legally marry needs a prenuptial agreement. Why?
Here are three of many reasons.
1. Understanding each other’s intrinsic values is critical. If you don’t see eye-to-eye on the important issues, you can choose not to marry legally.
To draft a prenuptial agreement, a couple must ask and answer difficult questions. Most of the questions revolve around finances, but the answers reveal more.
Below are four telling real-life answers given to the following question, which was raised during discussions about prenuptial agreements.
Will you or I pay spousal support if we separate legally or get divorced?
Yes. If our marriage ends, I’ll give you $1 million for each year that we were married.
No. I’m not going to support you if we separate or get divorced.
If you earn more than I do, I would like you to pay spousal support equal to one-half of your net income for a period equal to one-half of the length of the marriage, and vice-versa.
If I leave my career to become a stay at home mom, and we separate or get divorced, I would like you to pay spousal support until our youngest child graduates from high school, and I have returned to work earning $10,000 gross monthly. If I don’t leave my career for kids, I’m healthy, and earn an income similar to yours, I won’t need your support. If our income differs significantly, whoever earns more should pay the other one-half of the difference for one-half of the length of the marriage.
What is your answer to the same question? What’s your honey’s answer?
2. A marriage with wedding licenses and certificates issued by the government is more than a romantic moment. It’s a legally binding contract governed by laws.
In California, marriage is a civil contract that carries with it duties and obligations imposed on each spouse by law, including financial dues you could never legally owe someone unless he or she were your child, business partner or spouse.
When a person legally separates or gets divorced without having signed a prenup, his/her family, finances, and future are governed by the government.
A person’s decision to enter into a generic government marital contract isn’t wrong, it’s just unwise if he/she doesn’t fully comprehend and accept the terms that will govern the couple’s family and finances during marriage and divorce. It also could be a recipe for disaster.
3. Too many men and women are emotionally and financially decimated when they separate or divorce.
Over the last 22 years as a divorce attorney, I’ve seen the heartbreak and devastation of intelligent men and women who got married without prenups. I’d love to spare you in the event of separation or divorce.
So, if you’re thinking about marriage, I encourage you to:
- Seriously consider not marrying someone with disparate values and beliefs
- Understand the laws that govern marriage and divorce
- Sign a mutually agreeable and desirable prenuptial agreement
- Be lovingly protective of your well being before and during marriage
If you’re already married and didn’t sign a prenuptial agreement, all may not be lost. You can still make legally enforceable agreements with your honey, and in California, make them legally binding in a post-nuptial agreement.
If you and your spouse aren’t on the same page and/or your spouse won’t sign a post-nuptial agreement, take heed. You can speak with an attorney asap to learn ways to protect and preserve your finances, family, and future within the marriage or through legal separation or divorce.