Prenuptial Agreements Made With Love
Not long ago, a client came into my office with clear despair. I learned that she had been married for over forty years to the love her life. She and her spouse had three children together, now all grown. They led a satisfying life and are respected neighbors in their community. As this woman and her husband headed towards what were supposed to be the comfortable years of a semi-retirement, tragedy hit. Her husband was in a multi-car accident, and multiple people died. Against all odds, he survived. He sustained severe head injuries ending in a multi-month coma, and she stayed by his hospital beside day in and day out.
Finally and thankfully, he woke up from his coma. Slowly, he began to heal and after several months of in-patient physical therapy to help him walk and function again, he was able to come home to her and the rest of their family. In the months that followed, there was great joy and relief. Life seemed to become almost normal again but that ended in my office – the office of a family law divorce attorney.
After the accident, her husband began to exhibit new behaviors. Uncharacteristically, he would spend hours drinking, he started gambling, and in the process he depleted most of the couple’s retirement funds. For her, the breaking point occurred when, for the first time in over forty years of marriage, he raised his hand and physically hit her. The utter shock of this physical violence, from not only the love of her life but a walking miracle, was apparent as she sat across the table from me. Through the tears she looked at me and asked me a question family law attorneys have heard many times before, and not doubt will hear again, “What do I do now?”
Premarital Agreements and Your Future
As heartbreaking as this story is, tragedy hits unexpectedly. Whether it is the death of a family member, a medical diagnosis, or even a car accident as scary as the one she described to me that day. These types of tragedies cannot always be blamed on one person, or the other. They simply happen, and how you respond to the tragedy could completely change your path. You can’t go back in time and change the circumstances, but can you protect yourself and your family ahead of time?
3 in 5 Americans own some sort of life insurance policy. Others search for employers that offer life insurance benefits. Most advisors will remind you that life insurance is important as it is a means of protection for you and your family. Likewise premarital agreements are designed to protect you and your family. Though prenuptial agreements tend to carry a negative connation, surveys of lawyers across the nation show a fivefold increase in prenuptial agreements over the past 20 years. Why would you get insurance for your life in the event of death, but not insure your estate in the event of divorce?
If a premarital agreement had been signed by this couple, then the months that followed may not have led to a bitter divide, mud-slinging in a courtroom, or the thousands of dollars associated with a contentious divorce. A premarital agreement should be used as a unique legal tool and form of insurance that allows two people, during a time of love and care, to establish the property and financial rights of both spouses in the event of a divorce.
Did you know that the average cost of a wedding in the United States is $26,645.001? That does not even include the cost of a honeymoon. Now, the last thing you want to think about is “divorce” as you plan for your big day. However, I bet that you did not think about your first car accident when you were buying a car either, right? I most certainly know that my client never thought she would face these circumstances either.
Statistics consistently reflect that 40 to 50 percent of marriages end in divorce, so the possibility of divorce in any marriage, including yours, exists. The best “insurance” policy for divorce is a premarital agreement, also referred to as a prenuptial agreement. If you love someone, would you want them to lead a life without car insurance or health insurance? What about marital insurance?
Why a Premarital Agreement Might be for You
Now, we have all heard and understand the commentary and emotions that come with the discussions about a premarital agreement. You may hear that “a premarital agreement preconceives failure.” Or that, “If he is thinking about divorce now, then clearly I don’t want to marry him.” These emotions can be felt by both parties, and often it devolves into an issue about trust, “if they don’t trust me before our wedding day, then they never will.” However, it is important to keep in mind there are circumstances in life that are out of any one person’s control that can lead to divorce; and if you really love the person you are about to marry, don’t you want them to be protected against any probabilities?
Do not let your fantasies lead to an unpredictable demise. Consult with an attorney that has experience drafting premarital agreements in addition to a marriage counselor long before the wedding bells ring.