Wednesday, June 17, 2009

A Cup of Coffee on the Way, Part 3: Pre-Marital Agreements: Romance-Killer or Marriage Insurance?

Back in February, I started down a path of discussing what we, as a society and as a state, intended when we set up our "family law" and rules, and how, and whether, that should change. I've been contemplating those issues since then and talking to lots of people, about 'em.

One of the issues which has nagged at me is the relative ease with which we as a society let (some) folks undertake the "off-the-shelf" marriage contract, but for various reasons, make them jump through complicated hoops if they want to fine-tune and customize that contract (which is what a pre-marital agreement really does) , and refuse to let some other couples (that'd be the same-sex couples) enter into that contract at all.

Pre-marital agreements have finally made their way into popular song*, but they're still regarded by much of the public as something that only the celebrity rich need or want, and as a "romance killer" no matter who's considering them.

My view** is that they're exactly the opposite; they're a form or marriage insurance. I believe that the discussions which fiances have with each other in regard to the terms of a pre-marital agreement are the conversations which they should be having already if they're getting married. I'll offer the anecdotal observation, based on 30 years of family law practice, that the biggest cause of divorce isn't specifically sex, or money, or power, or boredom, it's that moment when one spouse says "This isn't the deal I thought I'd made when I signed up."

. . . and in other news, in at least one state, you can still get a jury verdict for "alienation of affection" (someone stealing your spouse) by someone who's engaged in "criminal conversation" (adultery).

*"If you aint no punk, holla 'We Want Prenup! WE WANT PRENUP!" Kanye West: "Gold-Digger"
** about which I rant and rave all the darn time

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