March 22, 2013

"You Already Have a Prenup."

"Every married couple has a prenup, whether they want one or not. The laws covering marriage and divorce in every state are nothing more and nothing less than premarital agreements. So the question is not whether you should have a prenup, but whether you want your state’s default version of one."

Another way to say that is: If you don't want a pre-nup, you don't want marriage. Which is not the same thing as saying: "If You Want a Prenup, You Don’t Want Marriage."

59 comments:

Brent said...

Ann, are you willing to share what you and Meade did regarding this?

Bob Ellison said...

I got married in The Netherlands. Ha!

Nonapod said...

Another argument for privatizing marriage.

Seeing Red said...

Recently read a comment on another blog that 1 of the Canadian provinces just passed a law that if you're living together at least 2 years, it's a common law marriage.

Grab your popcorn, this is gonna be fun to watch.

Daddy always said, "If he wants to marry you, he will."



Freeman Hunt said...

The state prenup is likely to say that if you part ways, you split everything. The outside prenup is generally thought of as a way for spouses to stake individual claims, to hold something back as mine and not ours, and thus gives the impression that those who have them are less than fully committed to the marriage.

That said, I think anyone who has children from a previous marriage would be crazy to get remarried without providing for existing children through trusts or a prenup or similar.

(Men especially should read that last sentence ten times.)

X said...

here's an area where the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau could do some good and require honest disclosure, but they won't and it's no mystery why. cui bono?

Ignorance is Bliss said...

It's a very different thing for the state to make plans for when people divorce than it is for the people getting married to make such plans for themselves.

I'm not saying that a pre-nup is always wrong. There are some people with enough wealth that they need to watch out for gold-diggers. But if I was marrying such a person, I would insist the deal be structured such that they leave the marriage with no more than I do. If the marriage dissolves, we each keep a small amount, and the rest goes to charity. That protects them from gold-diggers, and protect me from them giving up on the marriage too easily.

Nomennovum said...

Pre-nups have been rendered meaningless in NY by a recent Long Island case. The judge spit on it, ripped up it, and threw in the the garbage can because the wife (naturaly) said she signed it under duress.

"Duress," defined as "she is unhappy." Synonym: "irreconcilable differencse."

Coming to your state soon, boys.

Seeing Red said...

Mama was also very clear when I was younger that if she went first, 2nd wife wasn't to get what she worked for.

AprilApple said...

The State owns your ass.

Seeing Red said...

Maybe we can tie this in to Megan McArdle's recent posting about wealth & marriage?

Mitchell the Bat said...

I wonder what Professor Gilmore would say about all this.

DADvocate said...

The laws covering marriage and divorce in every state are nothing more and nothing less than premarital agreements.

Duh. This is why men are less eager to marry nowadays. The default agreement is slanted against them and, as noted by others, prenups are too easy to break.

Seeing Red said...

Thank you, Ignorance, since I've been winning the lottery in my head for decades, now I have an added arrow in the childrens' quiver in the unlikely event I really do!

Nomennovum said...

"Every married couple has a prenup, whether they want one or not. The laws covering marriage and divorce in every state are nothing more and nothing less than premarital agreements."

More bullshit on stilts from the NY Times. Divorce law is not an "agreement." It's a tax on marriage, assessed on men.

Alternatively, it can be considered a free option exercisable by a woman at any time entitling her to 50% of the husband's assets plus 75% of his after tax income.

In short, it's a state-mandated transfer payment scheme.

edutcher said...

Most states define duties (yes, woman, your marital duty, headache or not), responsibilities , and rights of marriage, so this has been around since Colonial times.

Somebody's just getting cute.

Brent said...

Ann, are you willing to share what you and Meade did regarding this?

I can't believe they ran off to a Coloradan mountaintop only after drawing up a prenup.

If you go back to those posts, Ann was the giddiest woman in love you ever saw.

President-Mom-Jeans said...

Prenuptual agreement or not, why the fuck would any guy in his right mind buy a single cow who could take a bunch of his assets when he can get milk from the herd in perpetuity for free?

Enjoy spinsterhood, sluts.

edutcher said...

President-Mom-Jeans said...

Prenuptual agreement or not, why the fuck would any guy in his right mind buy a single cow who could take a bunch of his assets when he can get milk from the herd in perpetuity for free?

The word disease ring any bells?

President-Mom-Jeans said...

A fair concern Edutcher, but I find that with proper precautions and only fucking women in my socioeconomic and racial group, the risk is ameliorated quite substantially.

You don't have to go all Titus style just because you see no value in marriage, serial monogamy works just as well. Like leasing a car, once she gets some mileage on her, you turn her in for the new model year.

Nomennovum said...

Prenuptual agreement or not, why the fuck would any guy in his right mind buy a single cow who could take a bunch of his assets when he can get milk from the herd in perpetuity for free? - Pres. MJ

Actually, whores are cheaper than marriage. Furthermore, there are always young ones around. Soon, men will develop life-like sexbots. (And feminists say men are the obsolete ones.)

edutcher said...

The Blonde, who spent 5 years working in communicable disease begs to differ. she's very quick to warn people (and we are talking close friends and relatives) about the risks of playing the field.

Apparently, you've been luckier than you think.

YMMV

bagoh20 said...

So the State takes half of what I create, when I make it, then when I get married they force me to give away half of what's left to someone else, then when I die they take half of what's left at the end. I love this deal. It makes me feel all warm inside. I gotta get to work now. People need my stuff, and I have to put in my "fair share" you know.

Peter said...

BUT the truly nasty part of divorce invariably revolves around children- the custody arrangements, and payments.

And prenups can't touch these, as the children have their own rights, which remain independent of anything agreed to by the parties who signed the prenup.

Freeman Hunt said...

Most people want families, so serial monogamy and purchasing sex are not good alternatives to marriage.

Bruce Hayden said...

The laws covering marriage and divorce in every state are nothing more and nothing less than premarital agreements.

I would have to disagree here. The key word here is "premarital". If you sign an agreement before marriage, you are mostly locked in at that time, but if you don't, you are at the whim of the judges and legislators in your state. This means that the legal ground can shift significantly under you during any length of marriage. You may believe you have certain rights upon divorce when you marry, but they are free to change those rules on-the-fly as time goes on. All for the good of the children, of course. This is much less so for written premarital agreements.

Invariably though the biggest problem with premarital agreements is that they cannot cover children, at least in most jurisdictions. And, that means that the women will almost invariably get the children, if they want them, and can often make up in child support what they may have given up in alimony and support in a premarital agreement. After all, the kids need a roof over their heads, a nice ride to and from school and/or the mall, etc.

Nomennovum said...

Most people want families ...

Not so much anymore. Look at the stats. Marriage rates down. Fertility down. Average age when first married up. Average age of first birth up.

The verdict is coming in from the judges: most people don't care so much about having kids. Men see nothing in it for them. Women care more about establishing their careers.

Demographic death spiral.

Seeing Red said...

Bago, that sounds like a bit from The Honeymooners I think when Ralph & Ed split the cost of a TV.

Ralph held up an 8" x 11" piece of paper, started explaining to Norton where all the taxes go, Ed takes that little square left, rips it in 1/2, licks it, slaps it to his forehead and I think says, "50% goes to the stockholders."

Bruce Hayden said...

But if I was marrying such a person, I would insist the deal be structured such that they leave the marriage with no more than I do. If the marriage dissolves, we each keep a small amount, and the rest goes to charity. That protects them from gold-diggers, and protect me from them giving up on the marriage too easily.

In short, ain't gonna happen.

A lot of time that is family money, and it would be irresponsible to set it up that way. Just think of the Heinz fortune now being used to fund John Kerry's expensive lifestyle (at least before he recently got his own government jet). Besides, marrying for money is accepted by many, and, indeed, had a girlfriend in business school, who talked about a number of her friends from Brown moving to Florida upon graduation to find and marry rich old guys. One had made maybe $100k a month, and would have made big money if she had lasted two years. She didn't, and the GF indicated that she thought that she could have, for the type of money involved. There, we had Ivy League educated young women from good families marrying solely for money, so that they could be financially independent well before 40.

Bob R said...

I thought the Newton article was the more clear headed of the two. People really do need to understand the financial implications of the partnership they are entering into. Even back in 1979, when my wife and I got married, the (Methodist) minister who conducted the premarital counseling spent a good deal of time talking about finances. Every marriage has a concept of yours, mine, and ours. Newton's point is that your idea might not agree with the state's.

Wilcox wants to be pithy and controversial, so he vastly overstates his case. He claims that if you don't agree with the state's definition of ours (pretty much everything) then you don't want to be married. But there is a lot of difference between ours=everything and ours=nothing. He may be right that marriages with an expansive definition of ours are more stable, long lasting, and satisfying. But I don't believe his data is precise enough to justify his absolutest pose.

Inga said...

Freeman, besides marrying for children and family, they don't even consider marrying for, wait for it..... Love.

I'm glad my children found someone they love, then married that person.

Cynicism, selfishness, callousness, yep better stay single.

Renee said...

A while back I remember reading on post-nuptials for Catholic couples to give more fault in a divorce and protect against no fault. If one is at fault for the breakdown, they get a pinch for it in court
I never understood how one spouse can be a jerk, but for the sake of the children the spouse has to pretend how awesome the other parent is

bagoh20 said...

"I'm glad my children found someone they love, then married that person.

Cynicism, selfishness, callousness, yep better stay single."


The problem is that one does not prevent or eliminate the other, and when the selfishness wins out, women have a state imposed and enforced advantage in punishing the man regardless of fault.

It's just wrong and damaging. An we would all admit it if the advantage was reversed.

Freeman Hunt said...

Freeman, besides marrying for children and family, they don't even consider marrying for, wait for it..... Love.

Yes. I didn't even address that. There is a depth in lifelong commitment that these other relationship forms can never touch.

Freeman Hunt said...

The problem is that one does not prevent or eliminate the other, and when the selfishness wins out, women have a state imposed and enforced advantage in punishing the man regardless of fault.

It's just wrong and damaging. An we would all admit it if the advantage was reversed.


I think this is overstated. Women more often get custody because they are more often the primary caretakers. Making custody decisions isn't about what is fair to the parents, it's about what is least damaging to the children. (And no matter what, divorce is damaging to them.) Often the thing that provides the most stability for the children is profoundly unfair to the parents.

William said...

The trick is to divorce young. The wife is still able to attract another suitor, and the husband has not yet reached his peak earning years. It works out best for everybody. THe most idyllic divorces are between young, childless couples......Can you put a weight clause into the prenup? After a few kids, a lot of women really start packing on the pounds. Obesity is a form of abuse. It should be recognized as such by the courts and alimony payments should take cognizance of this fact.

President-Mom-Jeans said...

Freeman,

I think the shocking statistics about the out of marriage birthrates would be evidence against the notion that most people want families.

Perhaps most decent people, which I certainly do not count myself amongst.

Nomennovum said...

There is a depth in lifelong commitment that these other relationship forms can never touch.

But that's the problem, isn't it? The "lifelong" part of marriage, Freeman. Marriage vows are not taken seriously. Being naturally hypergamous, women ten not to love a man unconditionally. And so most marriages end. The valuable free option owned by women (and given to them by the state) make the destruction of the family more and more likely.

bagoh20 said...

"I think this is overstated. Women more often get custody because they are more often the primary caretakers."

The problem is not about who gets custody so much, but that women are not discouraged from giving up on their marriage. If they divorce, they pretty much end up with everything they had in the marriage. They generally keep their friends throughout, their center (child raising), their income (and a big chunk of their husband's), plus now they can date.

It's just too tempting when things get tough. That's why women overwhelmingly initiate the divorce. If it was equally unfair to them both, they would try harder to fix their marriage first. That's why I haven't married. I think the odds are clearly against success, and I never met someone who convinced me otherwise.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

That said, I think anyone who has children from a previous marriage would be crazy to get remarried without providing for existing children through trusts or a prenup or similar.

(Men especially should read that last sentence ten times.)


Times eleventy!!!

Can't tell you how much heartbreak and devestation I have seen in my (previous) financial planning practice from people just not thinking in a second marriage. One case, the adult children of the deceased dad lost EVERYTHING when he died without changing beneficiaries on his life insurance and didn't set up proper trust arrangements.

Everything, being mostly real estate and other assets that had come from their mother's side of the family which had been inherited by their father when she died first, all went to the younger second wife and HER children. Everything, down to the family heirlooms and their mother's jewelry.

So they are left with two conclusions. Their father was a total and complete idiot. OR. Their father didn't give a flying eff about them and purposely cut them out of any inheritance.

In the case of divorce. Guys, and gals, if you have anything that would would like to keep, put it in writing!

Nomennovum said...

Women more often get custody because they are more often the primary caretakers. Making custody decisions isn't about what is fair to the parents, it's about what is least damaging to the children.

So what? Women tend to get custody regardless of this, except in the most egregious cases. Men are perfectly able to be the primary care-giver.

This issue is most definitely not the state's looking after the children's best interests. The undeniable proof of this is easy to find: no-fault divorce, which, more than anything else, is responsible for destroying families and taking fathers out of their children's lives, while taking 25% of the father's gross income at gunpoint and giving it to the mother.

Don't be naive. Divorce laws exist for the benefit of women, not children.

edutcher said...

President-Mom-Jeans said...

Freeman,

I think the shocking statistics about the out of marriage birthrates would be evidence against the notion that most people want families.


I think a lot of that has to do with firstborns. Once they've been out on their own with a kid in tow, it seems to go down.

Nomennovum said...

There is a depth in lifelong commitment that these other relationship forms can never touch.

But that's the problem, isn't it? The "lifelong" part of marriage, Freeman. Marriage vows are not taken seriously. Being naturally hypergamous, women ten not to love a man unconditionally. And so most marriages end.


No, many women have been brainwashed by the Oprahs and the Ricki Lakes into being self-centered whiners.

A mature (emotionally) woman will stick with a man through Hell and high water. The question is, how many emotionally mature women are there out there?

(hypergamous! you've been taking Insta too much at face value)

Nomennovum said...

hypergamous! you've been taking Insta too much at face value)

I don't know or care what he says, edutcher. Hypergamy exists. Intelligent people can disagree as to whether it's innate or learned, but it clearly exists.

Nomennovum said...

Re hypergamy: Have you ever browsed Plenty O' Fish or OKCupid, edutcher?

Amartel said...

Or you could just get married without asking permission to do so from the government. Two adults conducting their lives on their own terms. There's a thought.

Revenant said...

The state can change its laws regarding how marital assets are split, and can do so without the consent of the married couples whose marriage contracts are being retroactively altered.

So no, a marriage is not a prenup.

traditionalguy said...

Practice Tip: To the extent that State is a law prenuptual protections, it can be changed later by the legislature, and many have been.

Also, changing your State of residence changes that protection.

edutcher said...

Nomennovum said...

Re hypergamy: Have you ever browsed Plenty O' Fish or OKCupid, edutcher?

No, but I've heard of them and it all it does is vindicate my point that there are a lot of emotionally immature women out there.

MadisonMan said...

The laws covering marriage and divorce in every state are nothing more and nothing less than premarital agreements.

Was he paid by the word? Why include the phrase nothing more and nothing less than? The laws covering marriage and divorce in every state are premarital agreements.

BDNYC said...

This is beyond stupid. Words have no meaning.

Joe said...

I was married in California, so should my divorce have been governed by California law rather than Utah law?

More importantly, before we got married my then fiancé and I agreed on several things. She insisted that she would finish her college degree when our youngest started school. Sixteen years later, my then wife said "you know how I said I'd go back to college? I changed my mind."

Finally, since we were married, many states created child support charts which are completely insane. Yet, I'm bound by that damn chart (which is especially unbalanced because my ex refused to work--in all respects, not just outside the home.)

Were I ever to remarry--which I have no intention of doing since I'm not insane--I'd have an ironclad prenup along with some trusts and other things. She would be named beneficiary on only a few agreed upon things.

Erika said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Erika said...

That said, I think anyone who has children from a previous marriage would be crazy to get remarried without providing for existing children through trusts or a prenup or similar.

(Men especially should read that last sentence ten times.)


My MOPS group hosted a speaker who was a recently retired, very distinguished estate attorney. He said that in a forty year career he could count on one hand the number of times that a divorced man with assets had adequately protected his children when he remarried. In almost all cases involving a sudden death, the stepmother got everything and completely cut out her stepchildren in favor of herself and her own children. He said you don't think people will do stuff like that, but they do, every damn time.

Larry J said...

My wife and I married while still in college. That was 30 years ago this June. We're a "till death do you part" kind of couple. We had nothing when we married. Decades of work by both of us have put us in a pretty good financial condition. In the very unlikely event of a divorce, she's entitled to half of everything because she worked and earned it.

Should I outlive my wife, I don't think I'd ever consider getting remarried. I had little to nothing to lose 30 years ago but things have changed. It just isn't worth the risk.

MarkD said...

I got married in Japan. On the one hand, it's a male oriented society. On the other hand, she was the Japanese national. I guess I'll just stay married.

Brent said...

We got married in a fever,
Hotter than a pepper sprout.

Nomennovum said...

In almost all cases involving a sudden death, the stepmother got everything and completely cut out her stepchildren in favor of herself and her own children. He said you don't think people will do stuff like that, but they do, every damn time. - Erica

The hard truth is that much behavior -- even human behavior -- can be predicted by biology and evolutionary theory. So, it's not surprising a woman will favor her own children over her stepchildren. Why does this need to be explained to intelligent adults? (You know what? I'm beginning to believe the idea of romantic love is one of the few social constructs. It is also one of the most damaging in a time of unfettered feminism, because it dooms so many men to bitter disappointment and bankruptcy.)

If we'd take off our PC/Marxist/femininist blinders, we could all save ourselves a lot of grief.

Brent said...

Ann, are you willing to share what you and Meade did regarding this?

Guess not.

Brent said...

I got married in Japan. On the one hand, it's a male oriented society.

I believe you meant "male ORIENTAL society"

Erika said...

Hey Brent, guess what--I saw George Strait at the Houston Rodeo last weekend, and he and Martina McBride performed that song. It.Was.AWESOME. Almost as awesome as his performance of Folsom Prison Blues during the encore : )