The Marriage Diet

by Cozen O'Connor
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Did you know that marriage can keep you thin?  I call it the marriage diet.  For if you have a lifestyle clause in your prenuptial or postnuptial agreement, you may have contracted to keep your weight at a certain level, refrain from cheating, or engage in sexual relations with a certain frequency, for example.  If you don’t do what you agreed to do, your spouse could have the right to divorce you and perhaps even withhold payments to you.

Recently, I was asked to contribute to an article on Forbes.com concerning lifestyle clauses in prenuptial and postnuptial agreements.  See article by clicking here.  The article focused more specifically on infidelity clauses in agreements.  However, as mentioned, parties can include a variety of clauses in an agreement in an attempt to control their partner’s behavior.  The big question is whether these clauses are enforceable.

As I commented, lifestyle clauses are very difficult to enforce.  No judge is going to require you to step on a scale, hire a private eye to follow you or monitor your sexual activity.  And if your spouse has the evidence to prove that you broke the promise that you made to control your weight or other behaviors, whether you will suffer the consequences set forth in your agreement remains a question for the presiding court.

Nonetheless, lifestyle clauses like all other aspects of a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement, force parties to discuss difficult issues that they otherwise would avoid.  More important than discussing the behaviors that constitute these lifestyle clauses, parties are forced to discuss financial issues, such as what will happen to their property in the event of a divorce or even death.  How will they manage their finances?  Will they have joint accounts or separate accounts?  Will one spouse forfeit his or her career and rely on the other for financial support?  Discussion and agreement on these issues are crucial not only for the purposes of these agreements, but also for a strong marriage.

So even if the marriage diet is not in the cards for you, discussing the issues that your partner deems important before you get married or before you head for divorce, just might save your relationship.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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