April 27, 2007

Legal Valentines

I love my husband as much as the next life-sucking-stay-at-home mom, but I've got to ask, why have prenuptial agreements gotten such a bad name? One attorney refers to them as "legal valentines," assuring couples that it's only through a prenup that a couple can have true wedded bliss. What am I missing out on?

Prenups aren't as grim as they've been made out to be. It turns out you can liven them up a bit by adding in "lifestyle clauses." Does your finance watch too much football? One couple agreed the husband would only watch one football game per Sunday. Does your wife have a midnight snacking habit? Don Johnson convinced Melanie Griffith to agree to give up her property worth $100,000 if she ever went over 120 pounds. This is just the tip of the iceberg. With prenups quickly gaining popularity couples are finding no vice too trivial to address in the prenuptial agreement.

Some of my favorite are the "in-law" clauses. One husband agreed that if he swore in front of his in-laws he'd have to pony up $10,000 per curse. Another level headed couple decided the maximum amount of time they would ever be required to stay at their in-law's home was two days. Yet another couple signed an agreement that their marriage would be void if their respective mothers-in-law ever spent the night at their homes. This is the stuff of true love.

Only a few months past my 21st birthday I tied the knot with my darling hubby. He owned a 5 year old Toyota Tercel and I owned a box of old Manga comic books. Other that that, we were running on love alone. In our impoverished state, the thought of a prenup never entered my naive mind. Little did I know money is no longer the meat of a prenup. After some quick research I discovered one wife who contracted her man to pay her $100 for every minute he was late. Another enterprising woman convinced her husband to work until he was 65 to keep him from lolling about to house in his boxers for too many years. What was I thinking? Although my husband is generally good about helping out around the house, I'm kicking myself for not contracting him against wearing trouser socks with his gym shoes (his favorite vice) or blowing his fog-horn nose while I'm sleeping. Better yet, I could have made him do the dishes for every time he neglected to tell me how stunning I look when I wake up in the morning.

There is a fine line, however, between love and hate in constructing the perilous prenup. America's infamous couple, Bennifer, never even made it down the isle after drafting a prenup which stipulated Ben would pay Jennifer Lopez 5 million dollars every time he cheated and 1 million every time he lied about cheating. The moral of the story? Ben Affleck is a lousy, lousy infidel and isn't even worth marrying for his millions. Any of you engaged to him should seriously reconsider - or at least make the fine $10 million per cheat.

For those of you living in the state of New York a prenuptial agreement should be mandatory. It's reported that the divorce rate in New York is eight times higher than the national average. This is no surprise considering most couples in their tiny Manhattan apartments are forced to share a bathroom sink. One level-headed NYC couple had thought of everything. They agreed that even the $3 toll to cross the bridge would be split between them. I tremble to think what would happen if the husband didn't have exact change.

But what if your fiance doesn't think a prenup is a good idea? I found a article at AskMen.com which the groom can use to dissipate his betrothed's concerns. The author directs men to "ask her to be logical about the situation. Although this will likely be difficult for her (it is for most women), if she really cares for you, she'll put forth the effort." Alas, I fear a marriage built on logic would have never worked for me. Our marriage is based on the idea that I'm crazy, he's patient, and kids can only get so messed up by their parents before they leave home. But should Spike ever start eying my eBay account and see how much money I've made selling Peeps Windup Toys, I may have to consider a "nuptial agreement." You'll never take me alive, Spike!

20 comments:

Toni said...

We had 2 vehicles and crappy furniture. Guess we were doing pretty good, eh??

Amy said...

Sometimes I wonder about the marriages that start out assuming the worst. There's a fine line between having realistic expectations about a relationship and setting your expectations so low that the relationship meets them and ends. How many times can you say, "I love you, but just in case . . ." before the "I love you" part is cancelled out?

glittersmama said...

Too bad it takes a few years of marriage to figure out what would be the really important clauses.

s'mee said...

My husband's prenup suggestion was way ahead of his time, he wanted me to keep my maiden name because it "sounded cuter than what you'll have after we get married." I had one of those sing songy cartoon names. I did't take him up on it, but now I get mail delivered to a name that sounds like the symptom of a bad disease. Go figure.

AzĂșcar said...

My future mother-in-law took me aside before I married her son and said, "Get everything, I mean everything in your name. The cars, the house, everything."

Sarah said...

Azucar, was she kidding? If not, that's seriously creepy. So you did, right?

Sorry about your name Smee. I can feel a bit of your pain with a last name like Flake but I've got to say, I've grown rather fond of my silly last name.

So another interesting thing in all the prenup stuff I read was lawyers pushing them using the logic of (paraphrasing) those who don't have prenups sometimes stay married when they would have otherwise divorced simply because of the legal complications of splitting up the assets is too stressful without a prenup.


Why was it that we are all getting married again? Such a headache!

AzĂșcar said...

She was mostly not kidding. It had only been 4 years since her super-acrimonious divorce when we got married.

And uhm...
yeah,
they're all in my name.

This is mostly because Other Half is not in charge of finances and not out of any kind of strategic decision on my part.

Who are we kidding?

I am the mastermind!

Chanel said...

So I think the only way I would sign one is if it said, "if she gains only 120 pounds I will still tell her everyday she's got a hot bod". Poor poor Melanie.
And the MIL clauses are GENIUS! Who needs a legal agreement when it comes to that though? Pretty much my tyraids scare my husband enough to avoid his fam-damly as much as possible. I miscalculated when we moved out of state to get rid of them- we may be hundreds of miles away, but when they visit they think they can sleep in my house! Ahhhhhhhh!!!! Prenup where are you?????

Doug said...

"I love my husband as much as the next life-sucking-stay-at-home mom..." I'm concerned that there's a line of other life-sucking-stay-at-home moms who also love your husband.

Marie said...

We have learned from my grandfather's golddigging second wife that prenups are pretty much useless when the parasite is younger and stronger-willed than her much older and increasingly ill host. Prior to the wedding she sweetly agreed to a generous accommodation of her needs in the event of his demise, and then started re-negotiating for a larger share the minute the wedding was over and he was addicted to the non-widower food. Shoulda added a strict "no discussion" clause! Poor Grandpa. She also threw away EVERYTHING in the house (including spatulas, furniture, family photos, and my grandfather's WWII uniform) that dated back to the time of my grandmother and then spent his money buying nice replacements. Fortunately the photos and uniform were saved by my aunts and uncles. I fear Grandpa's sanity will not be as easily saved.

I used to think prenups were hideously unromantic and evidence of fatal mistrust, but after some of the financial messes I've seen among friends and family, I'm not so sure anymore. But as Grandpa has learned, they can only ever save you so much grief in a bad marriage.

How could I knock her off and make it look like an accident?

Janell said...

Just a notice to the world. Currently, I have every intention of insisting on a prenup should I ever catch myself a fiance. This is not because I am gold digging, or starting a marriage planning for the worst. I'm a worrier, and it would sooth a million worries to have the division of assets and children, the conditions following divorce, and so forth set out. For example, I want as many legal ties as possible (prenup, will, etc) to ensure that my family heirlooms stay within my family.

wynne said...

Peeps wind-up toys? Really?

Th. said...

.

Speaking of Peeps....

Mrs. M said...

Divorce was one thing we talked about a lot before we got married. We decided that we would never get divorced and that we would never joke about it.

When we were considering getting married, we had several friends going through divorce. "What makes us any different than them? What are we going to do to divorce-proof our marriage?"

It's not just about love, it's about commitment. One of our most repeated phrases is, "Let's always stay married to each other." I would have a hard time coping with life if I didn't feel secure in my marriage.

Rachelle Black said...

Since this is my second, and his third, we decided right from the start that divorce was NOT an option. It is amazing how it has worked out this time around.

I remember saying with my first, well, we can always get divorced if it doesn't work out.... ahhh... the power of positive thinking...
Slainte~
Rachelle

wynne said...

th. -- you are teasing me. I cannot get that Peeps link to work.

I wonder if anyone, anywhere, has something about Peeps mentioned in their prenup?

"Buying Peeps out-of-season, $100 per Peep.
"Buying Peeps in-season, $500 per Peep.
"Consuming any Peep at all, whether in or out of season, $200 per Peep.
"Feeding Peeps to neighbor's noisy miniature schnauzer until he vomits colorfully all over neighbor's lawn, priceless."

Lindsay said...

Can I just say...the picture you found for this post is perfectly HILARIOUS!

woody said...

Hi, Sarah. I had lunch with Shannon Monday in Big D, she enlightened me as to the joy that is your blog. Thanks for starting my morning with some good laughs. BTW, Dallas County had, as of 2005, the highest divorce rate in the country at just over 60%. We learned that in our marriage class. Scary and sad. -K

Annie said...

Todays post reminds me of this Mormon, mother of 3, all time favorite Kanye West song, "Gold Digga".

"Holla, we want pre-nup. Yeah."

Johnna said...

I still want to know which manga series you brought into the marriage. I think you underestimated the pre-nup-ability of that!

Seriously, sometime please post on manga, which series you like, which series I can share with my teenagers.