The typical pre-nup headline reads something like this, “Judge Slams Wife with Iron Clad Pre-Nup” meaning that the happy bride of her wealthy cheating husband has to move out of the mansion with little more than the designer clothes on her back and figure out where she is going to live and how she will support herself.
Those are the types of cases that we read about in the gossip pages of newspapers and “trash” magazines. These wives don’t seem particularly sympathetic, it being assumed that they married for money and got (or didn’t get) what they deserved.
For the rest of the population however, a woman need not have foolishly married a much older millionaire man to find herself in a similarly dismal position. It seems that women who are eager to re-marry are even more eager to give away their rights and power. All too often the woman feels that in a second marriage, she really isn’t or shouldn’t be entitled to much. Likewise, the man usually feels that he has accumulated certain assets long before this relationship and doesn’t want to share them with his new wife. In other cases it may be the Wife who is either the high earner or perhaps the more consistent earner who marries someone who earns less than her or has an unstable career and earning history. In either case, a pre-nup can protect a woman in both scenarios.
A pre-nup can be a wonderful thing or a nightmare. A pre-nup can take care of problems and issues well in advance so that if there is a divorce, it will be simple and quick. The key however is that it be a fair pre-nup. If a pre-nup isn’t fair, then there’s a pretty good chance that the divorce will be not only contested, but doubly contested, meaning that first there will be a fight over the pre-nup, and then, depending on the outcome, a second fight to determine what is in fact “fair.”
Of course whether a pre-nup is “fair” depends on a multiple of factors which are just too many to list, and certainly impossible to explain in an article. My purpose here however is not to cover all the legal aspects of a pre-nup, but to cover some reasons why a pre-nup should be considered by ANYONE, regardless of wealth.
5 Reasons You Need a Pre-Nup The Second Time Around:
1. Protection of Pre-Marital Property: As I always say, no matter how much or how little you have, you want to make sure you protect it. You can decide when and to what extent you may wish to share your pre-marital property, but unless you do it in a pre-nup, your state laws will decide how this is done.
2. Protection against Marital Debt: In many states, debt incurred during the marriage is deemed “marital debt” meaning that it becomes the debt of both of you, regardless of whose name that person’s debt is in.
3. Protection against Loss of Income: In many second marriage cases one spouse may no longer “need” to work. That person may be the Wife who has a smaller income, and she may decide, jointly with her husband to give up her career. A pre-nup can address this situation and provide for support under those circumstances. Likewise, should it be the woman who is the breadwinner or steady earner and the husband the one who loses a job, or quits a job, or is simply financially irresponsible, i.e. a drinker, gambler, she is at risk for a claim of spousal support.
4. Protection of Future Assets: Whether you choose to acquire assets in joint names or solely on your own, depending on where you live, you may or may not be creating marital property. In other cases there may already be an asset in existence which may increase in value due to your or your spouse’s contributions, financial or otherwise. Let’s say you own a house before you get married and your new husband moves in and lives with you for any number of years. Whether you put your husband on the deed or not, he may have a claim to a portion of the value of your house. Even worse, if a divorce does start, you may not be able to force him to move out until the divorce is finalized.
5. Protection of your Estate and Children: Again, no matter how big or small your bank account, or estate, you want to make sure that what you leave goes to the people you want it to. The last thing you want is for your family to be embroiled with a spouse over who gets your assets.
This is just a glance at some of the issues that come up in second marriages. Each of these areas could have its own article, but you get the picture.