Anna Gregoline | September 9, 2004
Partners in marriage often write their own detailed marriage contracts, covering such matters as the number of children they wish to have and the management of money. Would you write such a contract?

Kris Weberg | September 9, 2004
Yes, for a simple reason -- marriage, really, is only extant as a state contract anyway. Marriage, right now, is a legal state, an administrative fiction for tax purposes. The only reason to get married, really, is for the legal benefits of so doing.

True, there are religious and spiritual dimensions to committed relationships that might be called "marriage," but nothing about legal marriage right now reflects that. It's why a justice of the peace can marry two atheists to one another, or an ordained Satanist can marry two Satanists to one another in the eyes of the law. On the other hand, a believing couple married by someoen they, but not the state, considers a religious authority -- that's not a marriage, and confers none of the legal benefits thereof. (Well, can marry them so long as they're heterosexual atheists or Satanists.)

Lori Lancaster | September 9, 2004
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Kris Weberg | September 9, 2004
I imagine most peopel marry for love, but marriage itself is mostly a legal category. If the legal status of all rteligious marriages were dissolved tomorrow, and all the attendant tax, estate, and property rights that went along with it, people who married for love would still coinsider themselves married anyway, wouldn't they?

After all, "What God hath joined together, let no man put asunder."

The legal sense of marriage, the only sense that really admits of prenuptual agreements, inheritance rights, etc., really has nothing to do with love or with the religious elements of the ceremony.

Anna Gregoline | September 9, 2004
Most people marry out of sense of love, sure, but Kris is right. As of this post, marriage in the United States is purely a legal thing. The government does not care what kind of religious or romantic ceremony you have - as long as you've got the legal documentation, you're married. Which is the best reason that gay marriage should be allowed, but we already discussed that to death. =)

Scott Hardie | September 10, 2004
To death? We'll all have quit TC long ago and that discussion will still be going on. :-)

I can't wait till John Viola discovers this discussion.

Anyway, to be serious, I believe in well-worded prenups. The only thing I want to experience less than a divorce is alimony and a loss of my assets to my ex. I might never cheat on my wife or divorce her, but there's nothing to stop her from doing it to me, and I will protect myself from insult-to-injury. Refusing to sign an unfair prenup is one thing, but anyone who refuses to sign a reasonable prenup because "it's not romantic" or "it hurts me that you want this" has no idea of the financial realities of marriage and would rather stick their head in the sand, and that person is probably not ready for marriage.

Scott Horowitz | September 10, 2004
"Garth, marriage is punishment for shoplifting in some countries. " Wayne Campbell, Wayne's World

Anthony Lewis | September 10, 2004
I used to be a believer in pre-nups, until I heard a quite rousing arguement againt them just recently. Basically, it goes like this:

If you feel that you need to have the woman you want to marry sigh a pre-nup, it kinda shows that you are showing more love for the money and property than you are for the woman you are about to pledge your love and life to. And if you feel like you need to have a pre-nup signed, then you really don't need to get married in the first place.

For the most part, I agree with this. I'm not 100% on it though.

Anna Gregoline | September 10, 2004
"I might never cheat on my wife or divorce her, but there's nothing to stop her from doing it to me, and I will protect myself from insult-to-injury."

What's stopping her is her love for you - and you'll find that special lady, Scott.

I haven't seen the gay marriage thread lately...

Melissa Erin | September 12, 2004
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Melissa Erin | September 12, 2004
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Lori Lancaster | September 12, 2004
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Melissa Erin | September 12, 2004
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Scott Hardie | September 12, 2004
Hey, let's take it easy, here. I was specifically talking about people who refuse to sign a reasonable prenup on what I tried to characterize as overly emotional (and, by contrast, trivial) reasons. To my knowledge, you were never offered a prenup, and if you had been you would have considered it before declining, and if you had declined you would have had better reasons than the ones I stated. Give yourself a little credit. ;-)

Maybe this is further insensitivity on my part, and forgive me if it is, but allow me an analogy. If you were purchasing a house, would you not even consider getting insurance? You plan to live in that house for the rest of your life, and that's a very long time. Even a house that's brand new today can be withered over the decades by disasters and other assorted threats, and you don't want to run the risk of being left homeless in the event the house someday collapses, no matter how unlikely that event is, no matter how much you like you new house and can't imagine it collapsing.

A prenup is the same thing: An acknowledgement that life is unpredictable and uncontrollable, and that you can still risk losing your assets tomorrow no matter how good your intentions are today. Don't believe me? Drive down to divorce court this week and talk to the husbands and wives who are suffering through the ordeal of trying to protect their assets from each other's lawyers, and ask them, honestly, did they even consider the possibility of divorce when they were getting married? Almost all of them will say no, yet look at them now. It's fine to stand at the altar and marry your beloved in full expectation that the marriage will never dissolve (I was once prepared to do it myself), but to deny the possibilty of some far-distant divorce and not do something about it is, well, what I said about sand.

You know I'm not trying to be cruel, just frank. I already stated how firmly I believe in marriage vows on August 7, so you know I don't see marriage as a trivial thing; this is just about seeing the world with open eyes and acknowledging unfortunate possibilities. Maybe it's just because I used to sell insurance for a living. :-)

Scott Hardie | September 12, 2004
Asking for a prenup is not about not trusting the person. I agree with you that if you can't trust your spouse, there's no point in marrying them. But times change and people change, and in twenty years the person you married can be someone else entirely. Hell, sometimes even we change and want to divorce our spouses. Personally, I'm disgusted that divorce happens so often and so easily, and I'm glad that almost all of the married couples I have known have stuck together through the years. I'm glad for them and I want to join their ranks. I just don't believe in getting on a ship that doesn't have life rafts; even the Titanic sank, you know?

Melissa Erin | September 12, 2004
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Scott Hardie | September 12, 2004
Well, before I concede that they're unrealistic agreements for people who are not wealthy, I would at least like to tell the abbreviated story of a friend of mine. When his wife threw him out and filed for divorce, he was so destitute that he was literally homeless for the first few nights, sleeping in his truck on the street. A month later, he received a letter informing him of an inheritance worth almost $2 million. She has burned through hundreds of thousands of his dollars in the near-decade since then, devising an endless array of lawsuits in an attempt to pry the money away from him, and why not, since she already successfully sued to have him pay all of her legal bills. The guy wasn't a great husband and by all accounts deserved to be thrown out, but the money is purely his according to the law, and yet she's still finding new ways to sue him to get it, years later. I doubt if a prenup would have made any difference in this case because of her determination and her lawyer's creativity; I'm just trying to illustrate that we can't predict what fortunes life has in store for us, for better or for worse.

Anyway, before I get any further off-track, you're right. Prenups are not usually appropriate for most people because of their lack of significant assets to fight over. The only real benefit they'd hold for most people is to skip the expense of a legal tug of war, in the same way that a will prevents estate lawyers from arguing over what is better settled without them, but that's not necessarily worth the trepidation and distrust that a prenup can bring to newlyweds.

Melissa Erin | September 12, 2004
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Anthony Lewis | September 12, 2004
We also need better judges able to apply the law with fairness.

Honestly, if two people want to get a divorce, they should be made to work it out amongst themselves. Lawyers should only be used to draw up the agreement , and not to negotiate it. I believe it's the lawyers that are responsible for some of these outrageous divorce decisions.

If I were rich, and had a lot of property and stuff...I'd like to think that should I or my wife seek divorce...I would want to see that she if taken care of, regardless of who was the cause of discord (especially if there are kids involved). I think it's more or less the lawyers that tells the female spouse "we'll seek this, and we'll try to get that."


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