Prenuptial Agreements: Who Should Have One?
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For all of you who are about to enter into the state of marriage I offer you my heartfelt congratulations and wishes for a happy life, but at the same time let me make one thing absolutely clear - whether you think of it as one or not, marriage is in fact a binding contract, and if you do not take steps to make it otherwise, the terms of that contract are written by the state you live in.
I hope that doesn't sound harsh, or like a condemnation of the institution marriage. I do not mean it to be. But as a divorce attorney I have to the one to keep a cool head in the fires of either romantic passion or pre-separation anger, and see to it that my clients are acting in a way that will keep them protected. Marriage is intended to last a very long time, and the state has a vested interest in seeing that it does, because part of marriage is that spouses support each other financially, and so the state doesn't have to do it. Cold, I know, but that's the way it is, and so the terms that each state writes regarding the division of assets and spousal support payments when a marriage end are at least in part intended to protect the state itself from having to pay out benefits to insolvent ex-spouses. As a result, some of the provisions in the Family Code clearly intend to see to it that property is divided in an "equal" manner, even though that may not have been the original intention of the spouses.
Prenuptial agreements put the marriage on YOUR terms rather than the terms of the State. Before marriage it's a good idea to think about how things are going to be, and what will happen if, and I say only if, the marriage does happen to break down. 50% of them do, you know. It's not a crime. How should the assets be divided? Should there be spousal support? How much, and on what terms? These are decisions that YOU should be making, not the government.
It may not seem very romantic, but prenuptial agreements make a lot of sense. You should at least think about one if you are close to getting married. An experienced attorney can listen to you and write up something clear and simple that may end up saving you a ton of trouble and money in the future.