Skip to comments.Where is the love? (Prenups)
Posted on 02/15/2006 5:51:53 PM PST by qam1
By the time Donna Peterson's three children are grown, her estate will be worth $5 million.
The kids -- now 5, 8 and 16 -- can cash in on the family assets when they turn 30. But there is a catch -- each must sign a prenuptial agreement before saying "I do."
No prenup means no money until their 55th birthdays, says the Chelmsford resident.
"I'm not saying they're going to make a bad choice, but it happens," explains the 45-year-old, who has been happily married for 17 years without a prenup. "At 21, with puppy love, who knows how you're going to feel about the person 10 years down the road? We have to protect what we've earned."
Demands like Peterson's are climbing in the Massachusetts Probate and Family Court, where Middlesex County Register John Buonomo estimates 5 percent of all newlyweds in the Bay State are signing prenups before exchanging vows.
Figures from the register's office show the number of divorces declining by more than 2,600 since 2001, and prenuptial agreements steadily increasing by nearly 13 percent.
Reasons for prenups vary, but Buonomo believes two trends are driving the demand: age and women's professions.
"In the five years I've been register, I've noticed a considerable increase in prenuptial agreements," Buonomo says. "People are living longer, and they want to protect their assets. And more women are bringing up the discussion.
"Women have moved up the socio-economic ladder. They're partners in law firms, doctors and professors, and they want to secure their investments."
Boston lawyer Marty Kane, who represents residents in Greater Lowell, says 25 percent of all his clients' prenups stem from Generation X -- those ages 30 to 40 -- compared to less than 5 percent for older generations.
Generation X, adds Kane, is a guiding force in the rising tide of financial pacts.
"There are a lot of people in this age group that made a ton of money during the peak of the dot-com era," Kane says. "It's this generation that's putting prenups together."
Another push is coming from Generation Xers' baby-boomer parents.
"There's more acceptance of prenups today in general," Kane says. "Parents work very hard to leave a cushion for kids to fall back on. Sometimes you find the push for the prenup isn't necessarily the party getting married, but from the parents who forked over the dough."
That's where the Donna Peterson comes in.
Her oldest son, who is 16, is destined to become the first beneficiary of the family fortune.
There is a Catch-22. Peterson's son has no idea that a prenuptial agreement is in his future if he wants to collect his inheritance.
"He can use his parents as a scapegoat if he has to," says Peterson. "If he's really in love, it shouldn't matter. If it sours the relationship, he can move onward and upward."
Kane says mentioning the word prenup can lead to "one of the most difficult conversations two people can have."
He recalled a personal friend who waited to "drop the bomb" the day before his wedding.
"He was nervous, thinking his bride-to-be might call the wedding off," Kane says. "I wouldn't recommend leaving the discussion for the last minute like he did. But she still agreed to marry him."
Buonomo suspects prenups are increasing because younger people marrying are staying together for shorter periods of time. If a person has valuable assets going into a marriage -- a house, a car, jewelry or cash savings -- he wants to be sure to keep them in case married life is no longer blissful.
"Last week, I saw a woman in her late 30s who was going through her third divorce," says Buonomo. "People fall in love, love is bliss, then all of a sudden, it's not working out, and it's let's get out fast."
"Short engagements lead to short marriages," Buonomo says. "There is an important part of marriage and it's called engagement. If people put more time into that, we'd see less divorces, and maybe less prenups."
Well its her money, she can disperse it anyway she wants
Anyone who gets miffed at this is living in denial. Family money is family money, it should not go to ex-spouses if your kid gets a divorce.
I agree. The problem is not with prenups, although none of my children have them. The problem is with frequent divorce.
This is not that different from entailment, which used to be common among landed families in England.
My mother's husband pocketed as much of her cash as he could after she died even though there was a will that she had been in the middle of updating. Problem was that updating negated the previous will and postnup agreement.
Ping list for the discussion of the politics and social (and sometimes nostalgic) aspects that directly effects Generation Reagan / Generation-X (Those born from 1965-1981) including all the spending previous generations (i.e. The Baby Boomers) are doing that Gen-X and Y will end up paying for.
Freep mail me to be added or dropped. See my home page for details and previous articles.
"I'm sorry baby. You KNOW I love you, but my folks wont let me do this without that prenup. You are a wonderful girl, probably the best I will ever meet, but unfortunately I will need to eat whether you hang around or not. So lets just pretend we are married? We can call it a 'test-drive'. Oh baby, don't be that way. You KNOW I love you. Don't make me choose between you and my food!"
I like this variation on the conditional bequest.
If god forbid I have to get remarried I am doing a prenup.
Amazing, isn't it? Women love to cling to the man with money and desire the ability to soak him for every dime if the marriage doesn't work out. But when it's the woman with the money, they insist on the prenup.
Given my track record, if I had a large estate I might consider doing something like this - if they do screw up and have to wait til 55, they will be beaucoup grateful that Mom & Dad loved them enough to do this, knowing it might cause some problems in the short term.........
I wonder if going into a marriage defensively will ironically contribute to a divorce later.
While I can see certain advantages to a prenup, I also see the hidden message: that you don't trust your spouse.
I'm in favor of a prenup when there are children from a previous marriage, and a decent amount of assets that belong to said children.
I thought family money, assets, and items aquired before marriage were exempt from a divorce settlement?
Your thoughts ping?
ahh yes the OVER-legalization of our nation continues....
I stopped reading when I hit the line about where they lived (Massachusetts).....
No, that's smart.
We men aren't as smart... at least the first time.
Is this controlling and money obsessed woman going to dictate the terms of the pre-nups, for her not even marriagable aged children?
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