Mark McCown : Prenuptial agreement is type of insurance
Dear Lawyer Mark: I got engaged last week, and already we are fighting. My fiancé was joking about what she would get if we got divorced, and I seriously suggested that 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 prenuptial.
She said that I’m just assuming we’re going to get divorced, and that if I really wanted to be with her 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, cause she sure 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, homeowner’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, their house will burn down and that they will die anytime in the very near future, and they’re 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 us dramatically. Marriage insurance – premarital agreements – is the same thing. Most people getting married hope and believe that nothing will break them apart, but the reality is that no one can know what will happen to herself or her prospective spouse in the future.
Believe it or not, preparing a premarital agreement can also cut down on future conflict. In order for the agreement to be drafted, the engaged couple is required to make a full disclosure of all their assets and debts. This forces the couple to actually tell each other about their finances before they are married, so that they aren’t surprised later on when they find out about credit card debt or student loans that one party may have forgotten to mention.
One thing that you don’t have to worry about negotiating out in the agreement: custody of minor children. If a divorce were to occur, a court decides custody based upon the “best interest” of the minor children, not on an agreement parents made years before the children were born. This means that a provision concerning custody would not be enforceable if the court determines that it is in the best interest of the child to do something different.
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 your happily in love, than, if the time comes, to do it in court when your angry and distraught.
Thought for the Week: “A divorce is like an amputation: you survive it, but there’s less of you.”— Margaret Atwood
It’s The Law is written by attorney Mark K. McCown in response to legal questions received by him. If you have a question, please forward it to Mark K. McCown, 311 Park Avenue, Ironton, Ohio 45638, or e-mail it to him at LawyerMark@yahoo.com. The right to condense and/or edit all questions is reserved.
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