"Prenup" is not a dirty word

I came across a blog today, written by a lay person (non lawyer), describing “Why Prenups Are Bad.” I understand this woman is happily married with three young adult children, and while I am happy for her, I was not amused at her assumptions. What is more disturbing, however, is that I assume her opinion is not uncommon. She explained that prenuptial agreements show a lack of trust in a partner, a lack of commitment to the relationship, a plan for the end, and stated that with a prenuptial agreement, the chances of success for the marriage are limited. I could not disagree more.

I recommend any adult with a business, real property, children, and pretty much anyone over thirty should execute a prenuptial agreement before deciding to get married. Romance aside, marriage is a contractual agreement.  It is an agreement to partner your life with another person. To share in real property, income, possible offspring, etc. This contract, however, has no set terms.  “Till Death do us Part” will not hold up in court, nor should it.

A prenuptial agreement sets out the terms of the marriage and any possible termination of the partnership. It allows both parties to disclose and discuss their finances, expectations and assets up front. I do not see how this can be seen as a bad idea. It would benefit all pre-marital couples to have this conversation. It would also make sense to, at this time, when everything is on the table and you are both on good terms, to determine what should happen if the relationship were to expire prematurely.  Obviously, we all hope this is not the outcome, but it cannot hurt to be prepared. The alternate option is to “wait and see” and hope that if things go south you can amicably divide and negotiate, which is rare. Not only does a prenup make the termination less painful, it also makes it less expensive for the family, as well as the individuals.

As for the rational described in the blog, I have to say it seems to be a very archaic manner of thinking. Divorce is not the end of the world and people make the decision to end relationships all the time. Forever is commitment everyone cannot make. I believe prenups create more trust, a stronger bond, and enhance the chance of the marriage excelling.

A prenuptial agreement is not a plan for divorce. It is a plan to protect yourself, your future spouse, your future children and your assets. Ignoring the fact that relationships end is not the answer.  Planning for the worst is the best way to ensure the best in any circumstance.


Deadbeat Dad Disasters

It's no secret that I have no sympathy for deadbeat dads (DBDs). My momma depended on those child support payments and my dad took pride in his estranged responsibilities. However, I recently rep'd a DBD. I know, I know, why Disney??? Well, let's just say I did it for a friend. And money. Disney's gotta eat too...

This particular DBD is far from the worst-of-the-worst. He has, in fact, paid a substantial amount of support since his divorce was final, but the past couple of years he has significantly slacked. Significant = $75,000. Don't worry, no one is starving and these kids are not suffering, but I appreciate the frustration of the Ex.

As expected, his Ex filed for Contempt (2nd time) for his failure to produce the funds. Contempt is a Divorce Lawyers (DL) nightmare. Contempt cases are quasi-criminal, which means, the defendant can get locked up. Hauled off. Escorted to the big house. I do not practice criminal law for a very good reason - I DO NOT want to be responsible for another person's freedom. I'm a stress ball au natural so the additional pressure is not good for my soul, or my blood pressure. Unfortunately, I was already in too deep to pawn him off on a more willing DL so I handled it like a boss. Boss = not sleeping for days, studying similar hearing transcripts and memorizing any possible statute or case law that may be in any way referenced. And a whole lot of Diet Coke.

So D-day comes, my perfect pantsuit freshly pressed and I looked like a million bucks. I was way too early, because it's not like I slept anyway, and then we sat. We sat for 7 hours. We were the very last case heard. FYI, I'm usually in and out in less than 2 hours, so this was rough. I spent those hours consoling my client, reviewing my notes, and convincing myself that I had a really good case. For you new comers, I am extremely susceptible to myself.

So, finally, we are called. First, the judge called us [me and my less-daper opposing counsel (OPC)] into chambers. Chambers are cool and make you feel super important, until you realize you're about to lose. Then chambers are the third level of hell because your client isn't even there to hear the judge explain why she already hates him. Okay, fine, she didn't say "hate" but trust that I could see it in her eyes.

In a nutshell, it was downhill from there. All of my well-rehearsed-in-my-bathroom-mirror arguments were worthless when I was stopped by the hand and shushed like a preschooler. She, the judge, wanted him locked up. That's right... big house. Let me clearly state that my client would not fare well in that environment. I was terrified. Then we all exited hell and returned to our stage. Luckily, judge decided on other penalties for the failure to support and a stern warning that next time, he'd be in the cage. When I say "stern" I mean "mean." I'm pretty sure he cried. I know I almost did. I could feel my olive skin turning beet red and there was nothing I could do to stop it. Defeat. That's all I felt. I left the Courthouse feeling the emotional equivalence to the loser in the Vegas boxing ring. It sucked.

Bright side (cause there always is one): it can never be that bad again. I mean... it just can't. I have tasted defeat and it was bitter. I'd rather eat cilantro and I f*$#ing HATE cilantro. Next time I will refuse the DBD, or tell him to just abide by the order. For goodness sake people, if there's one rule you should always follow, it's the one made by the person with the power to take away your freedom.