The Truth About Prenups – by Nick Nichols (guest)

Somewhere in Portugal, Johnny Depp may have thought about prenups this weekend. How different would things be if he had one now? A lot.
There is surprise that there isn’t a prenup in this instance. But the truth about prenups reveals how problematic they can be.
Depp fits the ideal prototype for one who should have a prenuptial agreement. Older and successful. Children from a prior relationship. Substantial resources. Ongoing commitments and endeavors.
Prenuptial agreements set forth what will happen if two people divorce. The terms are agreed upon prior to the wedding. Both parties should be represented by counsel.
While on the surface everything sounds reasonable about prenups, the reality is that they are difficult. The couple must plan their possible divorce. There is no way around this becoming a negotiation.
Consider the setting. There is the powerful excitement of the engagement. Friends and family are looking forward to the wedding, and the parties’ lives are about to join and completely change. There is no happier time than this.
But a prenuptial agreement must be discussed, prepared, and signed during this same period. Each party hires an attorney. Each party will need to discuss their finances and circumstances with their attorney. And, each party will inevitably share their expectations with that attorney.
When the couple plan their future, they plan to love, grow and succeed. When they plan their prenup, they are anticipating the ‘what if’ of a divorce. In a divorce, people have interests as individuals rather than as a couple. These interests can, and usually do, conflict.
It’s much easier to talk about making money and acquiring assets together, than it is to talk about what will be done if there is a split. And what about earnings that increase and assets that appreciate during the marriage. What is fair?
Hopefully, a couple comes to the prenup process with a shared set of ideas and expectations. They have a sense of what will be fair and appropriate in the event things don’t work out. Hopefully.
There are those times when issues exist. For example, if one person made $200,000 last year, and the other made $30,000,000, then what is fair about support? If the lesser earning spouse changes their life and gets used to the thirty million dollar lifestyle, then what is fair then?
Well, let’s decide that at the same time we’re going over the guest list and arranging the honeymoon.
Even more, what happens when the fiancé says one thing should happen, but the divorce lawyer tells the other person something else? An awful dilemma. A challenging choice.
As romantic and loving as a couple wants to be, there will come a time to be practical when there is a lot at stake. The couple will have to talk and share intimately in a way that will transcend the issues of the process. There will be give and take. They will have to make decisions that they may make differently if they were apart.
That’s marriage.