For those who’ve kept up with the Kardashians, you’re aware that there’s trouble in “Khlodom” (i.e. the marriage between reality-TV star Khloe Kardashian and her basketball playing hubby, Lamar Odom). On Friday, December 13, 2013 Khloe filed for divorce, citing irreconcilable differences as the reason for the split. Four years ago when the couple said “I do,” news outlets reported some of the more lavish provisions of the couple’s prenuptial agreement. Sources leaked that if the couple called it quits Khloe would be entitled to a lump sum payment, $500,000 for every year they were married, $25,000/month in alimony, miscellaneous money for shopping and beauty treatments, as well as a new car every time the lease ran out. With reports of celebrity marriages gone awry and prenuptial demands that make you wonder why they ever got married in the first place, how does a non-celebrity couple handle the often sensitive topic of whether they need a prenuptial agreement and what it should contain?
It should come as no surprise that divorces are now commonplace, with the average American marriage lasting only 8.8 years. Yet, ever the hopeless romantics, American couples keep getting married. With some 40-50% of first time marriages and 60% of second-time marriages ending in divorce, it is more important than ever to have a contingency plan just in case Prince Charming turns out to be a frog and happily ever after isn’t quite the fairy tale ending you’d hoped for. Prenuptial agreements are an excellent early-planning strategy, and play a pivotal role in assisting couples through the difficult process of divorce.
At its core a prenuptial agreement is a contract that allows couples to craft and control the terms of the dissolution of a marriage. But if prenuptial agreements play such a positive role in resolving issues upon divorce, why are they so difficult to discuss? Simply put, prenuptial agreements remain taboo. However, contrary to popular belief, having a prenuptial agreement does not mean you’re sabotaging your marriage before it begins. A prenuptial agreement simply means you’re tackling the realities of modern day marriage head-on.
Now that you’ve convinced yourself that a prenuptial agreement is the right choice for you, it’s important to get your soon-to-be husband or wife on board. And here’s how:
1. Be Honest! Explain to your spouse why you’ve personally decided that a prenuptial agreement is necessary. Dispel any concerns your spouse may have about foul play or marital sabotage. Ensure your spouse that you really believe that you’ll be married forever, but just in case forever ends a little earlier than expected, you want to make sure you avoid a messy divorce.
2. Be Transparent! For a prenuptial agreement to be valid both parties must be willing to expose their finances. This means telling your future spouse about the stash of hush money you’ve been hoarding for a rainy day or that timeshare you bought when you were a freshman in college. For a prenuptial agreement to be equitable and fair both spouses must be willing to bare it all.
3. Lawyer Up! While parties can craft prenuptial agreements on their own, it’s a good idea to have a lawyer involved in the process. An attorney can advise you on best practices, assist in valuation of assets, and provide overall guidance on what can and cannot be included in a prenuptial agreement. Surprisingly, prenuptial agreements can be very broad; in fact, a prenuptial agreement that only applies in the event of a divorce is so-passé. Contact a lawyer to help you understand and navigate the intricacies of a modern-day prenuptial agreement.
Most people don’t go into a marriage planning for it to fail, which is exactly why it can be so difficult to talk about prenuptials. However, a prenuptial agreement can minimize risk, avoid litigation, and be a means to a healthy divorce. A good prenuptial agreement will provide guidance for divorcing couples and will minimize the stress associated with divorce. Now-a-days, prenuptial agreements aren’t just for the rich and famous.