The Advantages –and Disadvantages– of Prenuptial Agreements

Getting married is one of the most exciting periods in life. The joy of spending life with your partner is constant, but while you may be euphoric, it’s important to come back to reality and consider the financial impact of your partnership. While prenuptial agreements can be a strong safeguard for your pre-marriage finances, they can cause painful emotions and feelings of resentments. Here are some of the pros and cons of prenuptial agreements.

What is a Prenuptial Agreement?
A prenuptial agreement is simply a legal contract that separates your pre-marriage finances from the ones you possess in a partnership. In the event of a separation or divorce, the prenuptial agreement protects your ownership over those finances. If you don’t have the protection of a prenuptial agreement, your pre-marriage financial assets are at risk of being split if a divorce does occur.

Financial Protection
This is the first big one. Being able to have in writing what you’d like to do with your money in the event of a divorce or death is serious protection. If you have children from a previous marriage or have experienced a costly divorce in the past, signing a prenuptial agreement can ensure that if things don’t go as planned, you’ll still be able to stay financially afloat. While it’s unpleasant to think that your wonderful partnership could end in divorce, keeping that in mind while signing a prenuptial agreement will help you realize it’s for your financial protection.

Trust Issues
This is the biggest downside: while there are no statistics on how many prenuptial agreements are signed per year, the divorce rate in the United States continues to hover around 45%. While no one can be sure if this is due to prenuptial agreements, asking your partner to sign such a document can make them feel alienated, suspicious, or betrayed. Be sure to carefully outline your concerns before broaching this subject with your loved one.

Security
Often times one of the main boons of marriage is the guaranteed financial security for the less affluent spouse, or even for the spouse who is unemployed or underemployed. If one partner enters the union without a large amount of assets, and chooses not to work during the marriage, in the event of a divorce that partner will still have access to his/her spouse’ s premarital finances. Upon signing a prenuptial agreement, if one partner enters the marriage wealthier than the other, it will stay that way if a separation is to occur. This agreement then helps to ensure that both parties are marrying for purposes other than financial security.

Emotional Issues
While it’s nice to believe that these issues can be looked at logically and rationally, setting aside emotions during this process can be a difficult task. While there are many partners out there who support the financial independence of their spouse, many might take this suggestion as an assumption that one party is only in it for the money. This can take an emotional toll on both partners from which it’s difficult to heal.

Choose Wisely
When it comes to prenuptial agreements, each scenario will be best suited by a different act. If you’ re unsure about what to do, talk over the issue with friends, family, and most importantly your spouse, in order to understand your needs and prepare for the future.

This article was contributed by Sandy Wallace, an aspiring lawyer who loves to share his far-reaching knowledge of law with anyone who will listen. Sandy writes on behalf a Denton divorce lawyer from Hammerlie Finley Law Firm –Texas’s passionate, personable divorce and family lawyers.

The Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill: legal update

Background

Civil partnerships were introduced in the UK in 2005, but legislation such as the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973 has historically prevented the marriage of same sex couples.  In a bid to step closer to equality, the Coalition Government introduced the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill (“the Bill”) which will legalise the civil and religious marriage of same sex couples.  If the Bill receives Royal Assent it will undoubtedly mark an important milestone in the battle for equality.  A number of YouGov surveys published between 2012 and 2013 reveal that although the precise figures vary, the majority of participants have confirmed their support of the legalisation of same sex marriage.

On overview of the area

While the majority of the British public appear to be in favour of same sex marriage, presumably many of us anticipated that making it legal would simply require the Government to extend the current legislation to include the gay community.  However, some unanticipated difficulties have arisen during the drafting of the required new legislation.

One of the main causes of confusion that has arisen is that under the present drafting adultery will only be a ground for divorce if the adultery has taken place between the cheating spouse and a member of the opposite sex.  In other words, if two men are married and one of them is unfaithful with another man, his husband will not be able to petition him for divorce on grounds his adultery.  Instead, he will have to rely on grounds of unreasonable behaviour.  If, however, his husband were to be unfaithful with a woman, the aggrieved husband could petition for divorce on grounds of adultery.

There has been concern that some couples will choose to wed to benefit from tax and other reasons disassociated from traditional factors such as love and children.  Others argue that those who take this view are simply opponents of same sex marriage seeking to opportunistically discredit the viability of the Bill.

The Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill was not featured in the Queen’s Speech this year, but it continues to progress speedily through the House of Commons and is expected to reach the House of Lords in June.  The Bill may be subject to amendment on its way to Royal Assent and once it becomes law certain aspects may be made subject to judicial interpretation (for example, notions of consummation and adultery seem particularly vulnerable to litigation given the unanticipated difficulties).  Despite the technical difficulties faced by the legislators so far, the majority of the British public supports the right of same sex couples to marry and we are well on the way to making it legal, despite some bumps in the road.

For more information on same sex marriage of any area of family and matrimonial law contact Lisa Kemp

Generational Shifts in Attitudes toward Marriage

Alan Brady is a writer who uses personal experience as inspiration to write about family, the environment, and business practices. He currently writes for attorneys.com which locates local child custody lawyers.

In 2005 a survey was done to determine what views are held by members of Generation Y in regards to marriage and traditional family life. Generation Y is defined differently depending on where you look, but for this article it will be defined as people born between 1981 and 2000. The survey found that 59% of respondents feel that living together, or cohabitating as a couple is an acceptable lifestyle choice, regardless of whether or not children are involved or marriage is the ultimate outcome. Only half felt that marriage is a particularly important social institution.

For someone born into the Baby Boomer or early X generations, this perspective is often completely unfamiliar or even bizarre. Cohabitation doesn’t seem nearly as scandalous as The Greatest Generation found it, but for older Americans the end goal for any relationship is still understood to be marriage. For Generation Y and even those on the younger end of Generation X, the phrase “it’s just a piece of paper” is tossed around as an argument against the importance of marriage. Children are less and less a motivation for marriage, and a study done by the Pew Research Center found that the number of children being born to unmarried women has gone up from 28% to 41% in the last twenty years.

When questioning what influenced these drastic shifts in social mores, the behavior of previous generations must be taken into account. Data collected from 1970 revealed that more than half of all marriages ended in divorce. Even though those numbers have gone down, the idea has stuck in the cultural consciousness, quoted blindly in television and movies, in books and online without stop. In the 80s and 90s, when the young Gen X and Generation Y kids were growing up, it was the most recent data available, and whether or not it remained accurate, it certainly felt that way to them. The children in a classroom whose parents weren’t divorced were often in the minority, and the question ‘are your parents still married?’ was eventually asked less often than ‘do you live with your mom, or your dad?’

For the generation of kids raised in what used to be called ‘broken homes,’ there is often a feeling of disdain for the institution that so gloriously failed their parents. Having experienced the dissolution of their own families as children, these adults now feel a responsibility not to create another generation of latchkey kids, and will often choose single-parenthood over an uncertain marriage. Of course, no marriage can ever be guaranteed, but living together for an extended period of time before they get married lets them feel like they know what they’re getting into, which may account in part for the rise in cohabitation. In 1960 there were approximately 430,000 unmarried couples in the Unites States living together; today that number is closer to 7.5 million.

The debate around gay marriage in this country has raged for decades, but never before has there been a generation who so consistently support it, although they seem somewhat ambivalent about the idea of getting married themselves. According to recent polling data from The Washington Post and ABC News, 81% of Americans between the ages of 18 and 29 believe that homosexual couples should be allowed to legally marry, in contrast to the 44-57% of people in previously polled generations. The rate of change in those numbers is shocking, and they seem to imply a certain amount of inevitability. Even ten years ago, the conversation centered on the possibility of civil unions or domestic partnerships, but this generation view that as a new version of ‘separate but equal,’ and they will have none of it.

What has been more damaging to the perception of the institution itself has been the battle over same-sex marriage. This generation grew up listening to incredibly vitriolic recriminations against the ‘gay culture’ and the violent defense of ‘the sanctity of marriage,’ while every couple of years or so one of the loudest voices would be silenced by a scandal involving an undercover male officer, underage pages, or the services found at RentBoy.com. The hypocrisy demonstrated by these behaviors has to an extent tainted the very concept of marriage, and for many members of Generation Y, the exclusion of same-sex couples makes it a discriminatory institution, and one they want no part of.

The primary benefits of marriage have generally come from two very important spheres of life: the religious and the economic. While most religions still value marriage as the linchpin of the family, the stigma and severity of judgment against those who don’t get married, who get divorced, or who have long-term relationships and children outside of wedlock has to a large extent been weakened. For the first time in American history, the number of people who say they either don’t believe or are unaffiliated with any religious tradition has risen to 16%, and when asked 46% of people between 18 and 25 years old say they do not regularly engage in religious ritual. This means that for many of them marriage is no longer a moral issue. Even the economic benefits are inconsistent, as many low income Americans have discovered that by marrying and combining their incomes they will lose access to desperately needed services, which amounts to a disincentive or even a hurdle to marriage.

Generation Y is one of the most college educated groups in history, but after the crash and Great Recession of 2008 they graduated to find themselves in line for entry level positions behind scores of recently laid off veterans in their fields. With mountains of student loan debt and only minimum wage jobs to support themselves, many of these young people were forced to move back into their parents’ homes for extended periods of time. While this is and has always been a step on the path to financial independence, it has further delayed marriage and kids for millions of young adults. Few people think seriously about getting married while living in their mother’s basement, after all.

These data seem to be creating a misconception that Generation Y is a generation afraid of commitment, distrusting of each other, and generally uninterested in forming emotional connections. Although they may discuss marriage in more practical terms than their parents or grandparents did, there is an element of the romantic in their perspective. They see relationships as partnerships, not hierarchies, which is a lesson that would have benefited many of those divorced Gen X couples, and their reticence about marriage seems to stem from a belief that it should be more about love and respect than tradition or religion.