For most couples that are seriously involved in an ongoing relationship, marriage is often the inevitable and most important long-term result.
However, the road to matrimony can be a challenging endeavor to undertake. Though marriage is regarded as one of life’s most beautiful cornerstones, it is not as simple as merely “jumping a broom.” There are imperative social, economic, legal, and spiritual aspects to consider prior to making a union official. One of the preliminary measures couples take before marriage in order to prevent a long, complex episode of litigation in the event of a divorce is called a prenuptial agreement.
A prenuptial agreement is defined as a binding arrangement organized by a couple that concerns the asset ownership of both parties. The agreement establishes guidelines for how each party’s assets would be distributed in the event of an untimely death or divorce. The so-called “prenup” is regarded as controversial to some people. There are members of both genders who would not agree to such an agreement before marriage. One common argument such people have is that drafting a prenup presumptuously assumes that the marriage will fail.
Others believe that asset ownership is null and void and should not be an issue when two people love each other. Personal values often impact an individual’s belief system regarding how marriage should be entered into and maintained over time. However, the legal aspects of marriage entail more technical components. These components create the atmosphere for placing more personal feelings to the side in favor of focusing on avoiding contingencies. In principle, prenuptial arrangements are a way of legally procuring a level of protection for both parties.
While researching information to base the topic of this article on, I came across an interesting op-ed written in November of 2011 by a Huffington Post contributor named Henry Gornbein. Gornbein is also an established family law attorney based in the state of Michigan. He has practiced law specializing in areas such as divorce, matrimonial law, and child custody for decades.
Gornbein’s 2011 Huffington Post article is titled, “Prenuptial Agreements: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly.” In his very informative article, Gornbein gives legal pointers on how to use prenups to establish fair matrimonial terms. He also advises on how to avoid what he calls unreasonably “one-sided” prenup arrangements.
What A Fair Prenup Looks Like
I’ll start off this article section by stating that I am in favor of using prenuptial agreements before marriage. In my opinion, it is completely fair to take any assets or inheritances into account prior to marrying someone. It is wise for the man and woman to protect their premarital assets through binding documentation in the event of unforeseen circumstances. This is specifically important when regarding spouses who have children with inheritances from a prior union. However, I believe that such binding documentation ought to have terms that are fair to both parties. Below are components and guidelines on how to structure a prenup, which sets the stage for a fair marriage.
The income level of both parties is obviously an issue of focus when drafting a prenuptial agreement. People do not always marry a person with a socio-econmic status that is relatively equal to their own. However, as Gornbein states, there is a legal term called an “arm’s length transaction.” This is a transaction or relationship where an absence of control exists for both parties. This absence of control for both parties should exist when the agreement is entered into as well as when it is enforced in the event of death or divorce. Far too often, the party with the most assets or wealth may exert more control when drafting a prenup with a party who has a much lower amount of wealth or assets. The “arms length” principle prevents the financially stronger person from granting themselves far more leverage than the other less financially strong person.
The timetable for drafting a prenup is another very important aspect,which should be taken into account. Dissecting all the legal factors and options of such an arrangement can take time. The more time taken, the better. Important life decisions should always be well-thought-out. Never become subject to anything that feels rushed or imposes a reprehensible amount of pressure. In his article, Gornbein described a scenario where a spouse-to-be was presented with a prenup when the wedding was less than a week away. Thousands of dollars were already spent on the wedding and the party that presented the prenup was prepared to back out of the wedding if the document was not signed. Poor timing in examples like this show an overzealous attitude and always take a turn for the worst.
A prenup should always be entered into by two consenting adults who are fully aware of what they are doing. It is easy for two parties to grant each other consent when both persons are represented fully in the agreement. Honesty is always a catalyst toward gaining consent. Both parties should fully disclose all their assets and liabilities prior to getting married. Two consenting adults should also enter into such an agreement freely and voluntarily. Transparency in a fair prenuptial agreement can help set the stage for a marriage based on honesty.
Though many consider marriage to be an emotionally complex phenomenon, the law provides the opportunity for couples to establish grounds for a more calculable experience. There is an old adage in business, which states that you cannot manage what you do not measure. Prenuptial agreements are a way of both managing unforeseen contingencies and measuring the factors, which could play a role in creating them. It is useful for able-minded individuals to use the available legal tools at their disposal in a modern age of uncertainty. As they say, hope for the best while preparing for the worst.