Articles Posted in Prenuptial and Postnuptial Agreements

As I reviewed some of my previous blogs, I realized my next piece would be an important one because it is my 50th blog post! A while back, I set out to write and post quality pieces on different topics and issues within family law. Looking back on some of my more popular posts, I realized that prenups have become a very popular talking point. In the past, I have covered areas on why people should consider prenups, new and different types of agreements, and more. Then I realized: I haven’t yet discussed what happens after someone decides to actually get a prenup. Once you make the decision to start the prenup process, what do you do?
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After working on a variety prenups for all different types of clients over the years, I’ve realized that no matter the situation, everyone can benefit from some basic information on prenuptial agreements. I wanted to provide answers to some of the more commonly-asked questions I receive from clients.
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It happens all the time: a couple starts getting serious and may start making major purchases together. For some couples it may be furniture or a car, but many couples also choose to purchase or adopt a pet. While the relationship is going smoothly, everything is fine; but what happens when the couple breaks up? A big problem that arises in a breakupwalking-with-dogs-1185411-m.jpg or divorce is where the pet will go. According to recent stories in the news, custody cases involving pets are on the rise in the United States. You might know of someone who went through this issue after a breakup – the former couple ends up disagreeing on whom the pet actually belongs to and who should get to keep it. However, it is possible to address these concerns in a prenuptial agreement, preventing hostile and potentially costly disagreement in the event of a breakup.
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I’ve blogged before about different elements of pre-nups and how to approach making one with your significant other. However, the focus of pre-nups is usually about opening up communication channels and building a foundation for a healthy marriage. I recently read an article in the New York Times which focused on “no-nups” – agreements that couples enter into without an upcoming wedding. The no-nup is essentially a cohabitation agreement which is a legal agreement made by two people choosing to live together. As fewer couples look to walk down the aisle, cohabitation is becoming more commonplace. Although a no-nup may be formed for a couple with no intent to marry, the underlying principle remains the same – for each party to know “where they stand” and to be protected no matter what the relationship may bring.
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Most of us have listened to friends complain about an unflattering picture that their significant other posted of them on a social media site. In this digital age, people not only take more and more pictures of everyday events, but people are sharing the images through Facebook, Instagram, and any other social media sites they can get their hands on. Maybe your friend’s significant other catches them at a bad time but loves the picture and posts it anyway – your friend gets mad, but then it usually blows over, right? Couples are now entering into agreements that can prevent this whole ordeal in the first place – the “Social Media Pre-Nup.”
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our-special-day-888623-m.jpgIt’s no secret that saying the word, “pre-nup” to a newly engaged person often brings on a whole range of emotions. To many people, suggesting a pre-nup is effectively the same as questioning their loyalty to their future husband or wife. There is often an assumption that suggesting a pre-nup basically amounts to telling your future spouse to prepare in advance for the marriage to fail. However, pre-nups provide a wide range of benefits to each person and can also be a valuable communication tool between future spouses. When I hear of newly engaged couples spending hours and exorbitant sums of money on hall rentals, flowers, and wedding attire, it boggles my mind that important conversations about finance and future lifestyles are very often avoided. A pre-nup can be more than just an agreement; it can be a process that allows the engaged couple to discuss ideas, concerns, and expectations for the relationship, which can help reduce stress and help to build a strong relationship moving forward.

Pre-nup is short for prenuptial agreement and provides a framework for distribution of assets in the event of the marriage dissolving. It can also spell out the rights and responsibilities of each party. This is an official definition that people turn to when discussing the possibility of a pre-nup, but it is important to understand that any definition you look at simply scratches the surface of what a pre-nup can do for you. Because a pre-nup, much like any agreement, will be tailored specifically to you and your future spouse, it can be hard to spell out exactly what every benefit will be.
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Now that most of the dust has settled from news of former NY Governor Eliot Spitzer’s divorce settlement, it seems like a good time to address the details.

For those unfamiliar with the situation, Eliot Spitzer served as New York’s 54th Governor and was only in office for a little over a year before a sex scandal was brought to light, forcing Spitzer into resignation. News broke in March of 2008 that Spitzer was a frequent patron of an elite escort service in New York City. Details continued to emerge, including allegations that Spitzer was involved with a prostitution ring in the city. A memorable image from Spitzer’s press conferences was his wife, Silda Wall Spitzer, who stood, stone-faced, by her husband throughout the whole ordeal.

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Silda Wall Spitzer’s allegiance and loyalty to her husband became another storyline. Then, in 2013, Spitzer announced that their marriage was ending, and the divorce was filed in January of 2014. Between the initial scandal breaking and other details emerging in the following years, the question was definitely not why, but more of how the divorce would play out.
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Last month, one of the more enjoyable stories in the news revolved around the 11/12/13 date. It seemed everywhere you looked, news outlets, bloggers, and talk shows were talking about the number of weddings happening on this unique date. Weddings on 10/11/12 were no different, as people seemed to rush to the altar in order to celebrate their special day on this truly distinctive date.

The trend of getting married on a consecutive number date did not start in the past two years; people often look to consecutive dates as their own type of holiday – perfect for a wedding. In the past couple of years the trend has seen a rise, though. Much of this is undoubtedly due to the fact that after December 13, 2014 passes, it will be quite a long time until couples can sprint to the altar for a consecutive date wedding (and “long time” may be putting it mildly!). This past November was especially interesting because the consecutive date fell on a Tuesday – not exactly an ideal day of the week for a wedding. Yet even though a Tuesday wedding seems less than perfect, there was an increase of over 700% than the second Tuesday in November of the previous year. Even Las Vegas was “cashing” in on the special date, offering wedding deals discounted even more than usual for its chapels. With so many people tying the knot in one day, the story of true love and happiness practically writes itself. However, it also raises some considerations about how to handle the upcoming nuptials.

I’ve written previously about the value of prenuptial agreements for professional athletes (and other individuals with fluctuating high-income professions), but prenups are important for virtually any individual looking to get married. Couples that are in a hurry to get to the altar can sometimes forget to handle details and issues that may affect them down the line. In my previous post on prenuptial agreements for professional athletes, I compared the relief an athlete may feel after signing a contract to the relief a couple may feel once the prenup is handled. To be clear, a prenuptial agreement is an agreement entered into before marriage which sets out the assets of each person and can include control of each person over the assets and financials. The agreement spells out how the assets will be treated should the marriage fail. Prenuptial agreements have become increasingly common when at least one spouse has a high net worth (see Prenups and Professional Athletes) or has children from a prior marriage; but the logistics of a prenuptial agreement make sense for any couple looking to walk down the aisle. It is extremely important for all couples to communicate about money before and during marriage.
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basketball.jpgA solid contract is the cornerstone of a successful career for any professional athlete. A contract provides a sense of security, both personal and financial. Generally, an athlete will hire an agent to look out for his/her financial interests, ensuring that every deal or endorsement made is defined by a contract. Like many couples, however, when it comes to love and marriage, athletes are uncomfortable talking about money and shy away from planning for the future: good or bad. contract.jpg

It is often thought that a “prenup” is reserved for the wealthy: families like the Rockefellers, or other entrepreneurs with deep pockets who are finally deciding to take the marital plunge. While, a prenuptial agreement is essential for those already with assets, it is even more essential for those who are about to come into a great deal of wealth, or work in a field where financial security fluctuates significantly year-to-year. By definition, a professional athlete’s career can go from non-existent to superstar success overnight and return to non-existent the very next day. It is a phenomenal and harsh reality with highs and lows many people will never experience. It is not an average 9 to 5 job and can be disastrous for couples who are not thoroughly prepared for the ride before tying the knot.

It is important for professional athletes of all levels to consider the importance of a prenup. Much like a thriving business owner, a professional athlete has likely worked to perfect his or her skills over a lifetime, so it is important to protect the benefits and fruits of their labor. From their spouse’s perspective, it is also equally important that their contributions to the marriage are respected and that they have financial security if the marriage comes to an end.

Recently, news came out that the reality TV star, Khloe Kardashian and NBA player, Lamar Odom are headed for divorce. The couple does have a prenup which protects Odom’s estate, valued at more than $30 million. Sources say the agreement provides for Khloe to receive maintenance from Odom, as well as access to a joint account (funded by Odom) to pay all expenses. The agreement also outlines exactly how much Khloe would receive in monthly support in the event of a divorce. Though the terms of the prenuptial agreement have not been made entirely public, one can only assume that Khloe and Lamar have had well-advised input from their respective attorneys in coming to the terms of their prenuptial agreement. This type of planning enables both parties to reduce the level of stress associated with separation and divorce by providing certainty about the future. With a properly drafted prenup, Lamar and Khloe should find comfort that they have taken control over important financial decisions and minimized the fear of a third party deciding their fate.
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look at the future couple.jpgHaving an open and honest conversation with your fiancée about money may be uncomfortable, but it is an important discussion to have before marriage. It is especially important that a couple entering a marriage be open and honest with each other about finances. Individuals often have different financial styles, and open communication helps to establish a framework for managing different money styles in a productive way. One way to encourage open and honest communication between you and your fiancée before saying, “I do,” is by creating a prenuptial agreement (“prenup”).

A prenuptial agreement is a private agreement between two parties contemplating marriage. It is treated as a contract that is enforceable by the Courts. The couple arranges, in advance, financial matters in the event of divorce or death. Such matters include student or business loans, credit card debt, and support obligations. The couple may also want to address separate property issues, advanced degrees or licenses and/or businesses started before the marriage. The parties make full disclosure of their finances and with the help of an attorney representing each party, create a mutually agreeable plan that each party supports.

Preparing a prenup provides an excellent forum to engage in dialogue with your soon-to-be spouse about finances. The topic of money can be difficult to address, and often times we avoid the subject, leaving it for another day. Unfortunately, putting off these difficult conversations leaves a couple vulnerable to future negative consequences. Sharing your financial needs, concerns, and views up front with your fiancée places both of you in a better position in the long run. A family attorney or mediator can help facilitate a prenup negotiation, setting the stage for better communication about money, future plans, and many other topics, providing couples with a sense of security about how finances will be handled not only if the marriage dissolves, but if a conflict arises. Addressing your mutual wishes and terms in a prenups minimize the chance for adversarial proceedings or a long and painful court battle.
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