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The Marital Seatbelt

May 31, 2011

As the weather heats up, so does the wedding season. It seems like there are more and more weddings to attend (or plan) every year. Picture this: You’re spending some quality time with your favorite engaged couple. You’re discussing the plans for the wedding and the exciting future in store after the wedding. You figure the time is right to pop the question: “Have you guys thought about a prenup?” I would imagine their faces would cringe as they both squirm uncomfortably at the thought the subject. Welcome to the wonderful world of a family law attorney!

Prenuptial agreements are probably one of the most misunderstood concepts of the marriage process. Most people attach an array of negative connotations to “prenups,” and unjustifiably so. One common misconception is that a prenup sets the marriage up for failure because the happy couple is anticipating a break-up. That’s not really true though – a prenup is more like a marriage seatbelt. When people get in a car, they wear their seatbelt to protect them from injury in case of an accident. That certainly does not mean that someone is anticipating getting into a car wreck every time they put on their seatbelt. In fact, the vast majority of people who ride in cars wear their seatbelts and expect to reach their destinations accident-free. The seatbelt is worn for protection in case of an accident, not because anyone assumes that they will crash. If they do crash however, they’ve done what they needed to do to protect themselves from physical harm. Prenuptial agreements run along the same lines; it is a protective device for couples to minimize the emotional and financial harm that is inevitable in a divorce situation. It does not mean that you expect the marriage to fail, just like putting on a seatbelt does not mean you expect to be involved in a 10-car pileup every time you drive.
Is a prenuptial agreement something that’s fun to think about? Not at all. If it was fun, you wouldn’t need an attorney. Similar to how an an estate plan forces you to think about your death. You have to do it to protect you and your family – but once it’s done, you don’t necessarily have to think about it again. You buckle up every time you drive (or almost every time if you’re like me) and you get where you’re going. Consider what’s best for you and the love of your life’s emotional and financial well-being, now and forever. Buckle up and expect to reach your destination. Hopefully, you never need the protection of your marriage seatbelt.

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