A couple of years ago I wrote an article for Huffington Post questioning why it's so easy to marry, but so difficult to get divorced. The global divorce industry is thriving with some benefiting from the complicated process.
It's easy to blame the entire divorce industry, but that leaves us where we started: frustrated and broke! Finding solutions to messy divorce is much more challenging -- but it is a challenge that I live for. In my article "It's So Easy to Marry" I mentioned the value of premarital counseling. Youngsters sometimes decide to marry quickly based solely on their emotions and impulses, not taking into account the full extent of a legally binding commitment. Pre-marital counseling allows couples to fully consider the financial and personal stakes, revealing possible incompatibilities that are better learned before walking down the aisle. But even the most carefully laid plans sometimes fall apart and that's why I believe that people should be able to settle a divorce in a relatively uncomplicated way. That's is one of the reasons why I started with Divorce Hotel -- to spare people unnecessarily messy separations. Even thought my reasons are logical, the process can still be complicated.
The good news is that there is a solution. The bad news is that you have to start thinking about divorce before you marry -- I am talking about a prenuptial agreements or premarital agreements, more commonly known as a prenup.
A prenup is a contract that is drafted before marriage, basically outlining the terms for separation. Many people recoil at the mere mention of the word, as it blows romance out the window in a split second. Let's face it: nobody who has met the love of her life wants to start thinking about divorce! But with the rates as high as they are, it's important to face the facts and protect ourselves. Frankly, I believe that making prenups obligatory before marriage would save a lot of time stuck in really painful process.
I have prepared the most FAQs to help you better understand prenups:
Why a prenuptial agreement?
I can give you dozens of reasons why you should have a prenuptial agreement before marriage, but one of the most important reasons is that it forces a couple to think a bit further about all consequences of marriage. Too often couples only think about the emotional relationship, but marriage is also the start of a business relationship.
For example community property does not just refer to a couples shared property, but also debts. With a prenuptial agreement you can assess these areas and assert some terms and conditions beforehand, which saves a lot of headaches, should the marriage not work.
Is a prenup only for celebrity couples?
Not at all -- in fact I firmly believe that prenups should be for everyone. We often see them with celebrities because there are more assets at stake. Prenups are of great value for people whose partners might huge debts, or in situations where one partner earns much more than the other. Bottom line -- it is important to at least consider a prenup before marriage!
Can you list anything you want in a prenup?
Yes, you can list nearly everything what you want. For example adding a clause that states that you will try mediation if you decide to divorce, where you indicate that both spouses will commit to attending at least 3 sessions. Even a settlement about the dog can be included! But of course there are also limits. Legally you cannot excluded things like child support or predetermine child custody arrangements.
It's worth hiring a good legal professional to help you list your terms and conditions so that you have a good prenup that satisfies both spouses.
Does a prenup need to be updated?
Yes definitely! From the beginning you should aim to make your prenup as clear as possible. After 20 years it still needs to be crystal clear and contain no nuances. We all know that life situations such as wealth, jobs, houses and feelings can suddenly change. For that reason alone, it's wise to update a prenup every five years.
For a successful divorce, think carefully before the marriage. Prenups allow both partners to exercise control over their futures and help to make divorces much less painful. It's important to remember that when everything goes well in a relationship, partners are willing to share and give each other everything, often overlooking obvious areas of conflict. However, when facing a divorce that good spirit disappears quickly, often brining defense and meanness. That's why it's better of to arrange the terms divorce while love is still in the air and you are both able to think logically and reasonably.
I sincerely hope that you never have to go through a divorce, but if you do, it's better to be prepared!