Kanye West doesn’t make much sense when he gives interviews. But when it comes to rapping, he is on point. And when it comes to his understanding of a need for a marital agreement, also known as a prenup, postnup, or marital contract, Kanye’s advice should be taken seriously. Very seriously. “It’s something that YOU need to have”. But why is a marital agreement so important and how come most couples still do not have one?
The “why” is actually quiet simple. When you are single, you are one. Everything starts and stops with you. When you get married, you are two that the law in New York counts as one while you are together. Everything starting with the day you get married and stopping with the day you file for divorce is no longer about you but all about the marital union. So if a time comes to take the whole and make it two halves again (which happens quiet frequently), everything that has any value including all property, businesses, assets, pension, etc. now has to be equitably divided. “Equitably” is actually a very scary word for those of us who are NYC divorce lawyers because in court, it can defy logic, reason and fairness, which is ironically what it is intended to mean. But besides dividing things, getting divorced can also mean having to maintain your spouse financially and pay your ex’s attorneys to represent her, which could be a very expansive proposition. Alternatively, you can avoid everything you just read, for the most part, by signing a prenup or a postnup agreement. You can easily see why this is a very good idea.
So what exactly is this magic peace of paper that Kanye is rapping about? A marital agreement is a contract between spouses that allows the parties to decide and agree on how things will be divided and what will happen should the marriage come to an end. If no valid marital agreement is present, spouses are exposed to having the judges apply the law, their own interpretation of the law, and their own views of the facts and the marriage to the unique circumstances of your case. Since there are so many divorces filed in New York, the judges naturally don’t have the adequate time and attention span to learn the intimate details of your situation. This leads to an outcome that is very unpredictable and most likely will not leave either spouse very happy. A properly written and validly executed prenup or a postnup contract takes most of the work away from the judge leaving very little to interpretation. Marital agreements can be viewed as a purchase of “marriage insurance policy” designed to safeguard in the event there is a divorce or separation. These agreements also protect against the financial and emotional pain associated with prolonged and contentious divorce proceedings.
So if marital agreements are so useful, why don’t most couples have one? For the most part, it’s because of the taboo associated with negotiating about love. Love is a feeling, a state one enters associated with a higher emotional level then we can ever comprehend. Love can’t be described in words, we can’t quantify it or measure it, and it can only be felt in your heart. Ok. All true. But same can’t be said about divorce. We can describe it in words (nightmare, worst time of your life), we can quantify and measure it (can take years in court, costs thousands of dollars), and it can be felt everywhere (stress on your body and mind, felt in your wallet). So a prenuptial or a postnuptial agreement is not really about love and marriage, but all about hate and divorce. When you discuss a prenup or a postnup with the one you love, what you are really doing is offering them protection from the “Mr. Hyde” side of you and themselves that doesn’t even exist yet. Thinking and hoping that you will beat the odds and that the love boat will carry you through life and marriage with all of its obstacles is like taking your loved one’s hand and crossing a multiple lane highway with your eyes closed. But even if you are the couple that will try this, having a prenup or a postnup will provide you with a relatively safe passage across, although you will not be holding hands anymore when you get there.
Bottom line – get one. And please don’t get some generic form or use one of those cheap do-it-yourself companies. Get a NYC divorce lawyer to draft, negotiate and help you properly execute this agreement. There are many intricacies to know about these agreements if you want them to work and protect you. A matrimonial attorney can also help you properly discuss the prenup or a postnup with your significant other and explore many options these agreement offer. After all, this is one of the most important contracts you will ever sign in your life. Respect it and the effort that must go into it. Sign it, put it away next to your life insurance policy and never look at it again. And if you have to look at it again, you will thank Kanye and I.