Ninety nine percent of the people who contact me about prenuptial agreements are men. And over the course of my twenty-five years of practice as an attorney, only two women have initiated the prenuptial planning process.
This means, approximately .000002% of an estimated one million brides in California walked into my office before their weddings and said, “Helene, I’m getting married, and I want a prenuptial agreement.”
What does this say about us ladies?
Does it say we’re hopeful romantics, superstitious, in denial or most significantly, senselessly taking risks that are, in my mind, akin to having unprotected sex, smoking cigarettes, and driving without wearing seat belts?
It tells me we’re foolishly putting ourselves in jeopardy. And for what?
If you’re reading this because you’re engaged or may soon become a domestic partner, ask yourself these questions:
With divorce rates hovering at 50%, 60%, and 70%, do you want to throw caution to the wind or pull the wool over your eyes?
Do you think you’ll never get divorced? I, and most of my clients never dreamed we’d get divorced, but lo and behold, we’re divorced. And no, I didn’t have a prenup, which placed me at risk of financial harm and influenced the outcome in my case.
Does the thought of discussing the end of your marriage make your stomach churn because you hate the idea of it or fear your fiance’s preferences? I was nervous about broaching the conversation with my former fiance, but I did it, and I want you to do the same.
I know you’re an incredibly powerful and capable woman who can move mountains and cross chasms. And, if you’re choosing to memorialize your love with a civil contract (aka marriage), I want you to seize the opportunity to write the terms of your marital partnership agreement that predetermines the legal terms that shall govern a dissolution, if one were ever chosen.
Prenuptial agreements are like seat belts, parachutes, and oxygen masks on airplanes.
Choosing to use a prenuptial agreement doesn’t mean you don’t trust your beloved or believe your marriage will fail. Crafting a marital partnership agreement means you’re pragmatic, that you care about yourself, prefer to be cautious, and want to reduce the risks of harm in the event of divorce. You want to forge your own path, write your own tickets, and control the fate of your finances and future. Think start-up venture, prosperous partnerships, and parachutes.
Asking your soon-to-be life and legal partner to discuss and sign a prenuptial agreement means you want to confirm that your fiancé is an ideal match, and if he/she isn’t, gives you the opportunity to choose not to legally marry. –Yes, I believe men/women who don’t agree on how income, assets, expenses and debt will be managed during marriage and distributed in the event of divorce shouldn’t marry.
I know you’re thinking this will never happen to you because you are ___________ and your fiancé is _________. But, it doesn’t matter.
If you’re choosing to wed, you’re choosing to legally bind yourself to another. If you sign a marriage license and marriage certificate and without first crafting a prenuptial agreement you are, in effect, surrendering control of your personal affairs and agreeing to the governance of political strangers whose views you may not share.
There’s a 50%, 60% or 70% chance you will divorce, even if you’re smart, upper or middle class, educated, come from good homes, go to church, give back to the community….etc.
Please don’t mistake my zest for prenuptial agreements as a lack of faith, skepticism or pessimism. If you choose to marry, I want your marriage to be strong, fulfilling, and stand the test of time. I believe in love and connection and lifelong partnerships. I also know the devastation and destruction caused by divorce.
If you choose to marry, I want you to write the terms of your legal marital partnership. I want you to kick fear to the curb and embrace prenuptial agreements.
Don’t be scared. Choose to use a prenuptial agreement.
The strongest relationships are those with clear expectations and understandings. Prenuptial agreements are the perfect tool to help clarify your intentions and memorialize agreements on the road to happily ever after.