What is a prenup?

The Webword Dictionary defines the word “Pre-nup” as “A contract between two people made before marriage or civil union, for example stating the division of property if the couple divorce.” i.e. as soon as Kate accepted my marriage proposal I made it clear I wanted to sign a pre-nup.

But just how important is having a prenuptial agreement duly dated and signed prior to entering into a marital union? The billionaire Donald Trump advises: “Always have a prenuptial agreement.” I have seen people and businesses destroyed because there wasn’t a prenup.”

Donald Trump further states in his book “Think Big and Kick Ass in Business and Life,” when you get married, you think you are in love. Nobody thinks, “I’m getting married, but I know I’m going to get divorced.” I know you are in love, but do not let it cloud your judgment. The sad reality is that 58 percent of marriages in the United States of America end in divorce.

You want to go out and create a great business, buy some real estate, or build your assets. You can’t do that knowing that 58 percent of the time people get a divorce. If you get married without a prenup, there is a 58 percent chance you will get a divorce and lose everything, even if you were madly in love when you get married in the first place. As one divorce lawyer put it, “Made in heaven, settled in court.” It is sad and ugly, but true!

The Prenup and the Law

In almost all provinces and states of America, a prenup is commonly referred to as: a pre-nuptial or ante nuptial agreement. These days other legal documents have surfaced and are being used after the marriage has taken place. Your family law attorney may refer to this type of legal arrangement involving a binding contract as a “marital agreement,” a “post marital agreement,” a “post nuptial agreement,” or even as a “living together marriage agreement”. Sometimes the word “agreement” is replaced with the word “contract”.

When a couple do not enter into a legal and binding arrangement with the use of a “prenuptial agreement,” the state in which they reside, may decide who actually owns the real property which may have been acquired during the marital union. The state may even decide what actually happens to other property that each party owned prior to that person getting married.

When you understand how the state could divvy up your property, then you seriously need to consider a prenup. The single most important aspect of using a prenup is: you can legally state how you would like your financial affairs to be handled in a court of law, and who gets what share and/or percentage of property and to whom will be the benefactor of said property.

Texas Courts Uphold Pre-nups

It has really only been in the last decade or so that the law and the legal court system has given much legal weight to the use of a prenup and upheld the division of property as outlined within the prenuptial agreement. For example: On the front page of a Texas newspaper “The Daily Telegraph,” Thursday, September 1999, highlighted a major headline: “Wives Cash Split” Pre-nuptial deals legal. The article goes on to say that Pre-nuptial agreements setting out the division of cash and property on divorce will be encouraged by the legislation set to pass Congress.

The article further states: “At present, they are not formally recognized by the Family Court, which can ignore them when it brings down decisions. But the Family Law Amendment Bill introduced yesterday provides for “binding financial agreements”. Attorney-General Daryl Williams told Parliament these agreements could be drawn up before or during a marriage.

Mr. Williams said “People will be encouraged, but not required, to make financial agreements,” he said.

Mr. Williams further states: “They could cover the division of property and payment of maintenance and in some cases the preservation of businesses such as farms”.

“Agreements will allow people to have greater control and choice over their own affairs in the event of a marital breakdown”. “The agreements could also set down obligations in regard to children from the marriage,” Mr. Williams said.

Mr. Williams finalized by saying that said changes to the Family Law Act would give the Court more effective powers to enforce parenting orders covering where children live and with whom they have contact.

Prenups Not Only for the Rich

Not believing he should have a prenup the ex-Beatle Paul McCartney and his then-wife Heather Mills are a good example of how things can get nasty and messy in the event a couple ends up divorcing.

Paul McCartney’s estimated worth is over $1.5 billion dollars. After his wife Linda died of breast cancer, he met and married Heather Mills. It is reported that Heather was a nude model in the 80s and worked for a prominent escort agency.

But who knows the actual truth? The point here is… we know very little about Heather Mills. When Paul McCartney appeared on the Larry King television show, Larry King asked Paul if he was going to have Heather Mills sign a prenuptial agreement. Paul replied: “I would never have one, Larry.” It is reported that Heather Mills actually offered to sign a prenuptial agreement but Sir Paul McCartney turned down her offer.

After just three years of marriage, Heather Mills filed for divorced and sued Paul McCartney for 400 million dollars. It was a messy divorce and found its way into the media spotlight. It’s reported in court documents, that Paul McCartney claimed Heather Mills was “argumentative” and “rude to their household staff” during their marriage of three years. Because a prenuptial agreement was never drafted and signed, Heather Mills was seeking to get 400 million dollars in a divorce settlement.

It is reported that after all the infighting and court battle, Heather Mills got around $60 million dollars and the deeds to Paul McCartney’s home situated in St. John’s Wood. The bottom line here is… Get a prenup. It doesn’t matter how much you think you’re in love with your spouse to be, it just does not make any sense to get married and not have a prenuptial agreement. Just ask Paul McCartney what he thinks. I’m almost positive he had gone ahead and got a prenuptial agreement.

Videotaped Prenup

It has been said that the most ironclad of all prenups you can have is one that has been videotaped. Why? Because many times the other spouse will say they were forced to do it, or they did not know what they were doing. When you put it on video, you can prove they truly knew what they were signing. This way, if it makes its way into a court of law, a judge can see the entire ceremony. You need a prenup, but it’s horrible to say to someone you love, I love you, darling, I love you very much. You are the apple of my eye. We’re going to be married forever, but just in case it doesn’t work out, sign this document. You should not rely completely on a paper prenup. Why not choose to have a “videotaped prenup” in the unlikely event that you fall out of love.