Prenuptial agreement is like marriage insurance

Published 12:00 am Sunday, March 21, 2010

Dear Lawyer Mark: I got engaged last week and already, we’re fighting.

My fiancee was joking about what she would do if we got divorced and I seriously suggested we should probably do a prenuptial agreement.

After she came out of the locked bathroom two hours later, she yelled at me about how I must not really love her if I think we should get a prenup.

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She said I’m just assuming we’re going to get divorced and if I really wanted to be with her for the rest of my life, I wouldn’t even think of getting one.

What do you think about them? Maybe she’ll listen to you, because she won’t listen to me.

— Really in love

Dear Really:

As a lawyer, I tend to think of premarital agreements as a sort of “marriage insurance.” You probably have car insurance, home owner’s or renter’s insurance and life insurance.

However, I think it’s probably safe to say that most people who have these don’t assume that they will wreck or their house will burn down or that they will die anytime in the very near future and they are surely not going to hope for it.

Insurance is a recognition that there are factors in our lives over which we have no control, but that nonetheless can affect is dramatically. Marriage Insurance— a premarital agreement— is the same thing. Most people getting married hope and believe nothing will break them apart but the reality is no one can know what will happen to them or their prospective spouse in the future.

Like insurance, premarital agreements merely attempt to make the best of what can be a horrible situation.

It’s much easier to divide everything when you’re happily in love then, if the times comes, do it in court when you’re angry and distraught.

Dear Lawyer Mark:

I’m wondering why today’s courts just care about the man’s name when it comes to children.

The last time I got divorced I couldn’t have my maiden name back and could not change my child’s last name to mine.

He said it’s because it’s traumatic for a child to explain why his name is different from his dad’s.

I think this is a bunch of baloney. It seems like everyone gets divorced nowadays and when you get remarried, you change your name anyway, so it would be traumatic for a child to explain why his name is different from his mom’s.

And besides, he lives with me, not his good-for-nothing dad.

— Mrs. No name

Dear No name:

First of all, the courts don’t really care about the father’s surname just because it is the father’s.

What the courts are concerned about is reducing stress and trauma placed on the child by their parents divorcing.

It’s not so much the courts want the child to have the father’s name. It’s more that they want the child to maintain his or her own name and identity. Thus, if the child had a surname other than that of his father’s, the court would have the child keep than name.