Skip to comments.Good News on the Law: Before You Say “I Do” to a Pre-Nup…
Posted on 05/07/2008 8:37:27 AM PDT by LikeLight
Are you a joyful bride-to-be? An eager (or nervous!) groom? Perhaps you have a son or daughter getting married this spring or summer? Perhaps a beloved grandchild? Or maybe a lifelong friend? The peak of wedding season is arriving and many of us have a special acquaintance or family member ready to tie the knot in a beautiful marriage ceremony of thrilling romance and holy commitment.
So what does any of this have to do with the law? Why am I raising the subject of weddings in my Christian legal column? Im writing to brides and grooms and those close to them because I want to encourage you to build the strongest possible marriage from the beginning, a marriage built on the solid foundation of God and His Word. And Im writing because I want to encourage you not to weaken or undermine that sacred foundation by relying on destructive legal worldly wisdom that commonly advises you not to get married without first entering a pre-nuptial agreement.
In an era of frequent marital break-ups and complex family structures, our cynical culture and most secular lawyers portray anyone getting married without a pre-nup as either foolish or naive. Before the wedding day, we are warned, wise couples should agree in writing what will happen if and when the marriage dissolves. But is there something wrong with this pessimistic advice? Should Christians begin their sacred marriage relationship as if it were just another business deal? Is it healthy for a husband and wife to be forced into negotiating against one another as legal adversaries, each with their own attorneys, in the days or weeks before they are joined as one flesh in the eyes of God?
(Excerpt) Read more at goodnewsdaily.net ...
I'm sure this one will raise some passions... Let's keep it clean and civil...
Did you know Catholic marriages are not valid (in the Chruch’s eyes)if there is a pre-nup?
Not a probelm for me. I got married once, divorced once, and I would never put myself through that again.
Happily single now.
I have an even simpler solution for surviving this era of frequent marital break up. Don’t do it. Don’t get married. It is nearly impossible to tell the good ones from the bad ones anymore.
No, there's nothing wrong with it at all. At work I see couples slogging through different stages of divorce proceedings almost every day. Now, I haven't actually asked anyone, but I'm sure none of them got married with the idea that they would be spending thousands and thousands of dollars a few years later to divide their assets and get a divorce.
I agree with your point of view, especially if there is an estate from the deceased first partner who was the bio parent of the kids.
If this is a serial monogamy situation, it gets more complicated as to whether these people should contract a Christian marriage, as Nina0113 points out.
No, I wasn't aware. That's something I need to know for future reference. Can you direct me to a good source for more details?
I’ve never heard that Catholic marriages were invalidated by a pre-nup agreement. Is this something new?
Way back in the olden days there were many marriages among the royals in which prenups were involved.
The need for discussing the breakup of a marriage prior to the wedding means it is doomed from the start.
Long ago while she was still single Elizabeth Taylor said, “I hope my first marriage will be a happy one.”
Nonsense. Such inane argument is on a par with the belief that going to the doctor reflects a lack of faith in God's providence.
That's a moot point, since the government has already taken over marriage as an instrument to implement various social policies and distribute benefits. Better to go all the way and make the pre-nup a legal requirement - taking the "You don't trust me!" emotions back out of the equation.
I have been married twice, unfortunately for me it took two times for me to come to the same conclusion you have.
Seems to me it would be more important for a FIRST (and hopefully last) marriage to have a COVENENTAL Agreement....no divorce just because “I don’t love him/her anymore”.....
“Should Christians begin their sacred marriage relationship as if it were just another business deal? Is it healthy for a husband and wife to be forced into negotiating against one another as legal adversaries, each with their own attorneys, in the days or weeks before they are joined as one flesh in the eyes of God?”
How is this different from dowry negotiations?
The dowry was returned if the marriage failed safeguarding the wife. I realize it is an anachronism, but a pre-nuptual agreement, done correctly, safeguards both parties.
Unfortunately, I think in a first marriage, especially in a Christian marriage, it might give more power to the wealthier spouse and create something decidedly unChristian.
In a subsequent marriage, especially if children are involved, definitely.
Christians are subject to the same worldly, ungodly nastiness like everyone else, especially if greed enters the picture.
"Believing that marriage is a covenant,
intended by God to be a lifelong relationship
between a man and a woman,
we vow to God, each other, our families and
our communities to remain steadfast in
unconditional love, reconciliation
and sexual purity
while purposefully growing in our
covenant marriage relationship."
That would make for some fascinating research and writing, the history of how prenups arose. I know many of our estate planning tools (trusts, etc.) came from the old nobility. But I never dug into the history of prenups.
Why not let the market decide? Church goers are thinking humans too.
Interesting statistics on odds of divorce found here:
Clearly if there are great disparities in wealth between the wife and the husband, a pre-nup is PRUDENT (not skeptical) given the probabilities of divorce. Skeptical would be a pre-nup in the 1950s between two people with equal wealth.
Allow me to piggyback on that comment that if either party is an owner or member of a family-owned business, it is generally considered good business practice to ensure that family ownership does not become diluted due to a divorce. The answer to that dilemma is a pre-nup along with carefully drawn business organization plans that restrict ownership.
Seriously? Canon Law?
What about second marriages (death of spouse, of course!)
I’ve been married so long a second marriage would never enter my mind if my spouse should die. But, if it did, how on earth could I protect my children? (Right, children at 40!)
I guess I’d have to do trusts hmmmm.
Encouraging. Thanks for sharing.
In an era where money is coveted and greed is rampent,if the person has a substantial amount of money and the other person does not have much, or if both have large inheritances a prenup is important. People are crazy, christian or not, to get married without a prenup that spells out who gets what if they decide to divorce. The reason being that the lawyers would get most of their money trying to keep it from the other person. No prenup works great for attorneys. And if children are involved from previous marriage, then all the more it’s needed. If you both are broke, or equally balanced, then maybe it doesn’t matter.
I am a strong christian, and your marriage is only solid if BOTH parties work at it, period. Christian marriages have almost same divorce rate as nonchristian marriages. Whether you sign a prenup or not will not affect your marriage, that’s superstition. You can never make another person do what they are supposed to do, if you could there wouldn’t be an over 50% divorce rate.
The quote summarizes pretty well the attitude that worries me, the sense that defeat is inevitable, even from day one of the marriage. Thanks for posting.
That's why I always tell my business clients that WHO you're contracting with is more important than any words I can put in the contract. I can write the best contract in the world, but if you're dealing with a snake, you're still gonna get bit.
Your analogy is wrong. Anything that makes divorce easier has a tendency to undermine marriages. If it is more expedient to terminate the patient (ailing marriage) than to go to the doctor to get treatment (counselors etc.) and there is little or no consequence to the one who terminates the patient - death is imminent.
That's one way to approach things. But there are some good ones out there, and you're taking yourself out of contention. Marriage is still a great blessing for many.
So is marriage. Marriages are legal contracts between individuals, are performed in accordance with secular law by agents licensed by the state. I understand the religious overlay but that doesn't change the fact that marriages occur, and are dissolved, under rules set out by the state. At the risk of sounding rather cold-blooded it seems to me that a pre-nup would be a reasonable extension of this.
BTW, my wife and I don’t have a pre-nup since we were essentially penniless when we got married 25 years ago. But I would advise our children to get one, particularly if there is a significant age difference or economic difference between them and their prospective spouses.
now now folks don’t go all bitter because Obama may end up writing you into another san fancisco bitterness fundraiser.
He has enough to be bitter due to Operation Chaos in Indiana.
Nope, Dave Ramsey says that Pre-Nuptuals are a symptom of distrust - a very bad sign. He regularly catches couples with His/Hers checking accounts and when he does he directs them to examine the Trust issues in their marriages and says it is not a financial issue but a Marital issue for possible counseling.
I don’t know why ANY person, many or woman, with money and/or assets would get married without one. Sorry.
You’ve hit nail on the head, and it seems those snakes are multiplying faster than angels..lol
I made mistake on 50%, the divorce rate is closer to 43%, and that’s according to census but that is still high, and here is link:
Just in case someone needs a report for the statistic.
In the scriptures, the Apostle Paul actually encourages singleness for those strong enough to handle it without succumbing to temptation toward immorality. But, thankfully, for the rest of us weaker folk the Bible encourages and celebrates marriage.
My mother got a pre-nup for her first marriage because her parents asked her to do it. She was set to inherit their money and they wanted assurance that it would be hers alone.
Then after her first husband died, and she had inherited a lot of money, she got a pre-nup for her second marriage because she wanted to be sure I would inherit.
If I ever get married, I will have a pre-nup for the same reasons. Far as I’m concerned, the people who produced the inheritance in the first place, still have some say in it, though they’re long gone.
My wife is a good person. I’d like to think I know her pretty well.
I’ve been with her through ups and downs. Two children, maybe more to come. Hopefully grandchildren. Then I look forward to retiring with her, spending time traveling, touring our great country and the world. Maybe go back to England where I was born and show her Europe. I have no real love of Europe, but she’s never been and wants to go someday. Those are the thoughts I had when I got married to her. And they’ve only gotten stronger as the years have rolled on.
Marriage isn’t always happy, nor pretty. There will be rough times, but if both people are decent folks and committed to the relationship and the *children* then I find no reason for divorce. Both people have to know that stuff will happen in life.
I think a lot of people who get divorced multiple times are the types who always think that the grass is greener on the other side. Not that I think divorce is necessarily wrong. Ronaldus Magnus got divorced once, and then found the love of his life. We are human, mistakes do happen ;-).
The way I look at the rough times is this: Let’s look forward to when they are over, and get over them constructively.
BTW, as to marriage statistics: claiming you are Christian doesn’t make you so! I’m not technically a Christian, but I would be willing to bet that the way we live our lives is more aligned with traditional Christianity than most of the people on the street who claim they are. Just as saying that you are a Republican doesn’t make you a conservative.
But maybe I am a naive fool. I say this much, if I am — my wife can have everything if we split. She is the mother of my children, and if I made such a grand mistake in the woman I chose to marry then that’s my punishment :) And if the fault is entirely mine and she divorces me, then I deserve it as well! It will also be a good disincentive to getting married again, as several posters have alluded to!
You are spot on!
From one Steve B to another...
Maybe it's more like having a euthanasia or assisted-suicide declaration in place, something that says "If I get really sick, just put me out of my misery"? The underlying attitude I'm struggling with is the sense that the prenup offers such an easy way out if the marriage goes through a season of struggle, which many marriages do.
"Q: Does the Church allow prenuptial agreements for second marriages? I am entering a second marriage after the death of my wife and wished to execute a prenuptial agreement in order to protect assets accumulated by my late wife and me for our minor children.
A: Prenuptial agreements are a matter of civil law, so canon law does not rule them out in principle (for example, to determine how property would be divided among the children of a prior marriage upon the death of one spouse). But in practice prenuptials may run afoul of Church law in a number of ways. For example, they cannot subject a marriage to a condition concerning the future (e.g., an agreement about the dividing of assets in case of divorce). The Code of Canon Law provides: "A marriage subject to a condition about the future cannot be contracted validly" (CIC 1102). The Canon Law: Letter and Spirit, a commentary on canon law, explains that condition may be defined as "a stipulation by which an agreement is made contingent upon the verification or fulfillment of some circumstance or event that is not yet certain." It goes on to state that "any condition concerning the future attached to matrimonial consent renders marriage invalid." For example, a marriage would be invalid if the parties stipulated that they must have children or they have the right to divorce and remarry someone else."
Here's something from the Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh. I just grabbed it because it came up high in the google, and it's generally representative of what I've learned myself:
Here's a key excerpt:
“The use of prenuptial agreements has become much more commonplace in recent years. The presence of a prenuptial agreement presents an immediate concern in the marriage preparation process. It is suggested that the priest or deacon ask the couple about the possible presence of a prenuptial agreement at the initial meeting along with the questions about the possible presence of a prior marriage. The couple needs to understand that a prenuptial agreement may be an obstacle to a marriage in the Catholic Church. A legal document that protects the separate assets of the prospective spouses may well undermine the community of life that is essential to a marriage and may render it invalid.
“The case of a widow and widower who intend only to protect the natural right to inheritance of children of their first marriage may be an exception. This is clear if the prenuptial agreement provides for the disposition of the property in case of death rather than divorce. A prenuptial agreement that provides protection in the case of divorce may very well imply an exclusion of the permanence of marriage and, consequently, invalidate marital consent. In cases where one party has considerably more assets than the other and those assets are protected from the future spouse with no third party being benefited (such as elderly parents who spent their lives building a family business) it is hard to see how the couple is intending the community of life that is true marriage.
“The priest or deacon must not presume that any prenuptial agreement is acceptable. Before wedding plans can go forward, a copy of the prenuptial agreement needs to be sent to the Department for Canon and Civil Law Services for evaluation. The couple must be informed that the wedding plans are on hold until a determination is made as to whether the prenuptial agreement in question would render the marriage invalid. If it is determined that the prenuptial agreement is invalidating, the couple must rescind the agreement before plans for a Catholic wedding can resume.”
The general principle is that anything that envisions the “end” of a marriage through divorce suggests that the parties don't really mean “till death do us part,” and that mental reservation invalidates the marriage.
Bravo!My wife and I got married agreeing that failure was not an option.Marriage can be a job sometimes,you have to be willing to work at it.
There's a great quote from someone... "A man is no fool who gives up what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose" - - - I think you get that. I think you're living that. Peace and blessings to you and your wife. She's blessed.
I’m glad to see someone else looked it up for you! Steve and I were told about it when we did our marriage prep, but I didn’t have the canon law reference.
As Prokopton’s post at 39 points out, pre-nuptials aren't automatically invalidating, but as my post at 41 points out, they are viewed with suspicion, and the particulars of them can make it impossible to validly contract a Catholic marriage.
Use of pre-nups to protect the inheritance rights of children IN THE EVENT OF ONE'S DEATH are not generally invalidating. However, use of pre-nups to guard assets IN THE EVENT OF DIVORCE are invalidating. That's because entering into a pre-nup that specifically deals with what happens in the event of divorce is a mental reservation about the indissolubility of marriage through divorce.
It's amazing to me, as an Evangelical Protestant, how so many of the things I've "discovered" about the integration of Christianity and law turn out to be already well-known to Catholic thinkers. You have such a rich tradition of thoughtfully wrestling with these thorny matters. Thank you.
You kind of have to take the good with the bad anymore. Since I married the last perfect one.