Why You Should Get a Prenup:
Why Prenups Are More Romantic to Lawyers than Weddings

Prenuptial agreements, often viewed through a lens of scepticism and distrust, actually serve as a pragmatic and essential tool for modern couples. They provide a safeguard for premarital assets, streamline the divorce process, and help couples navigate the financial complexities of marriage without undermining trust.

However, for a prenup to be truly effective, it needs to be drafted with careful consideration and legal expertise. James Sexton (a US Divorce Lawyer) made that point very clear.

On the “The Diary of a CEO” podcast with Steven Bartlett, Sexton (a US Divorce Lawyer) spoke about his experience in dealing with divorce and how a certain prenup agreement was quite shocking to him.

James revealed the most ‘outrageous’ prenup he has seen that was actually enforceable.

Wedding rings on top of a contract

Outrageous Prenup Case Study

Sexton revealed the most ‘outrageous’ prenup he has seen that was actually enforceable.

“The most shocking prenup I’ve ever seen, which was enforceable, had a provision that said that for every 10 pounds the wife gained in the marriage, she would lose $10,000 a month in alimony.”

He explained that the husband was extremely concerned about staying in a marriage with a woman who was actively gaining weight, especially as he was going to become more wealthy.

The husband’s solution to combat his wife’s possible weight gain was to put a clause in their prenup that essentially forbade it. Sexton recalled that the husband wanted a specific clause that if they divorced, she would be given $70,000 a month for alimony, but for every 10 pounds that she gained from the start of their marriage, she would be forfeiting $10,000 per month from the overall payout. As such, she was required to weigh herself regularly so a record could be kept in case the couple were to divorce.

“It was designed to sort of create an incentive that she would remain thin.’’

Despite the request being both disturbing and inappropriate, Sexton said the clause was questioned in court to make sure both the wealthy client and his then-fiancée knew what they were agreeing to.

The court said, ‘This is a disgusting provision. I don’t know why you married this person. But it’s enforceable. It’s a contract. The two of you signed it and you had a right to sign it and you agreed to these rules, and they may be ridiculous rules but you agreed to them. And you have a right to do that.”

James admitted that despite finding the prenup clause odd, it’s still a form of love.

While Sexton felt the provisions of the prenuptial agreement were “very shallow”, when asked by Steven if he thought the couple were in love, he said there was also “something very honest” about the clause.

“Is it a form of love that I’d be interested in? No, I think it’s very shallow in some ways… There’s something honest about it. I mean, you can’t argue with the fact that there’s something very upfront about it.”

Sexton pointed out that this husband made it very clear before he even walked down the aisle with his new wife and wanted it in writing as well. He never lied about his intentions and made it known to his wife-to-be that this was her only value in their marriage, her physical appearance was the most important aspect of their relationship.

On the other side of the coin, Sexton stated…

“Let’s not forget the other side of the equation. She was going to get $70,000 a month, that’s a very impressive number, so I think she also understood there was a value to be attached to him as well.”

Sexton explained that she was more than aware of the value attached to the marriage, just in the way that her husband was.

While the prenup may seem outrageous to many of us, Sexton explained that, as a lawyer, he’s not there to comment on whether an agreement such as this constitutes love. Rather, he looks at “the engineering” of prenups.

“Do I have a right to say to someone that’s not love? I don’t think I have the right to say that to someone.”

Had he been representing the wife in the case, Sexton continued, he would have advised her to put on weight before the wedding to ensure her ‘base’ weight was as high as possible. If the couple were to separate, he would then have her go on a strict diet, wear light clothes on weigh-in day, do regular sessions in the sauna, whatever it took to shed weight, making sure she got as much money as possible.

“That’s why lawyers don’t get invited to parties because that’s how we analyse problems.”

At the end of the day, as a divorce lawyer tasked with representing, Sexton remarked that he does not look at it through a moral lens but rather how he can assist each person in the relationship to achieve what they wish out of the pre-nuptial agreement, even if it’s something as ludicrous as making sure one person stays within a certain amount of pounds.

“Like, I didn’t hear that and go, ‘What is the nature of their coupling?’ I looked at it and went, ‘I could play with that.’ Whoever I’m representing in that transaction, I can figure out a way to make that work.”

Click here to watch the clip of Sexton discussing prenups.

Why Everyone Should Get a Prenup

Many clients are under the impression that prenuptial agreements (“prenups”) are exclusively for the rich and well-connected, those with serious money on hand before marriage seeking to protect their vast assets.

 In modern times, however, prenups are a valuable tool for most couples, regardless of their wealth and regardless of their circumstances. This includes having a prenup as a same-sex couple. 

Anyone with any premarital assets can and should protect those assets

A prenup, at a bare minimum, will list an inventory of your assets and those of your spouse that each will keep as separate property should you divorce.

You do not need to have three family homes and a multi-million dollar business to benefit from a prenup.  If you have any personal or business assets that exist before marriage, a prenup can protect those assets from being reachable in a divorce.   

Moreover, you can identify how future assets will be divvied up between you and your partner, as well as assets accrued through inheritance; you and your spouse may wish to keep ownership of these assets separate during the marriage.

Prenups facilitate the divorce process

If you do end up in divorce, you may find that the process can be difficult, lengthy, complicated, and emotionally charged.  Anything that can help streamline the process is immensely helpful.

A strong and comprehensive prenup means it is more likely that you can resolve most or all of the issues connected to the divorce, and it’s more likely that you can settle everything through mediation without having to go through court proceedings.  The divorce will be shorter, easier, less stressful, and less expensive.  

Prenups do not mean that couples do not trust each other

The stigma associated with prenups is rapidly disappearing. However, some still worry that bringing up a prenup while engaged can ruin the magic of the relationship by suggesting that they do not trust their partner.

Prenups are simply legal documents that lay out how the parties will handle the most unfortunate possible outcome for the relationship.  It is a “break glass in case of emergency” document, not a statement that divorce is likely or even possible.  If the divorce never happens, then the prenup will not matter. 

Prenups do not make divorces more likely. Divorces happen because of a host of other issues such as adultery, financial disputes, disagreements in child care, or other marital problems. Most people will simply forget they have one until divorce happens.

If the unfortunate event of divorce does occur, everyone involved will be happy to have set the rules back when everyone was of clear and sound mind, before emotions associated with divorce came into the picture.

Get in Touch

For legal advice on pre-nuptial agreements, please contact our team of expert Family Lawyers on 01273 957 270 or email [email protected]

 

By Published On: July 9th, 2024Categories: Insights

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