The Marriage Contract by Jan Josef Horemans [Public Domain]
There’s no good way to ask your significant other for a prenup.
Trust us—there just isn’t.
After all, a prenuptial agreement doesn’t quite fit in with the romantic, modern view we have of love, does it? Shakespeare didn’t write of love that it was “an ever fix’d mark…unless thy really, really will it be over and done with already.” A typical marriage vow doesn’t include “Until death or irreconcilable financial difficulties do you part.”
With all that being said, are prenuptial agreements worth exploring, and if so, in what situations are they most appropriate, what’s the situation like for Americans and Canadians facing this modern economically-fueled quandary, and just how do you pop the question…
“Will you sign this prenuptial agreement with me?”
Here’s a quick guide to the world of prenuptial agreements, as well as the potential implications they can have on travel arrangements.
Love and Marriage: Prenups in the US and Canada
Love and marriage.
They’re supposed to last forever, and go together “like horse and carriage” according to Frank Sinatra. That being said, we’ve all seen the stats that say otherwise. The divorce rate in the US is a whopping 50%, and the Canadian picture is none too rosy either, as it sits at 38%.
Canada has its own issues when it comes to divorce rates, with “peak divorce time” coming around the 4th anniversary of marriage or so in recent years.
"I Don't Know Quite How to Ask This But..."
If you end that above sentence with the parodied line from the beginning, “Will you sign this prenuptial agreement with me,” or anything resembling that, chances are you can kiss both the prenup and your relationship goodbye.
There’s no good way to ask about a prenup, but if you’re intent on having one, you want to exercise both honesty and the element of trust in order to make the proposition easier. As stated below, you need to be honest about your intentions when entering into a relationship, and the same goes for prenuptial agreements. It’s important that your partner know what your true feelings are, and that you’re not planning for failure, but rather trying to safeguard for success in your relationship.
Asking your partner for a prenup shows an element of trust insofar as you trust—or hope—they’ll agree. Try to emphasize that aspect of your trust and, again, above all, be honest as to why you want a prenuptial agreement.
In addition, there are a few elements which are standard to any prenuptial agreement which you’re going to want to keep in mind. For starters, arranging a prenuptial agreement isn’t as simple as agreeing that, should your love-struck journey together take a detour and wind up on the rocks instead of Margaritaville, you’ll divvy certain assets in some fashion. Certainty is your friend when it comes to both legal arrangements and harmony in a relationship. All of that, of course, comes back to the basic issue of communication, which you’ll hear time and again championed as the cornerstone of any long-lasting relationship, and rightfully so, but it’s equally important when it comes to delineating the endgame of a relationship. Vagueness and grey areas are either a lawyer’s best dream or worst nightmare, depending on what side of the case they’re on, and as goes your lawyer’s in-court battle or out-of-court settlement, so too does your ability to emerge from whatever prenuptial decision is arrived at in good shape.
There’s a difference between an “agreement in principle” and an actual, enforceable agreement, and this is precisely what you want and, indeed, what’s needed when considering a prenuptial agreement. There are a few basic guidelines which you’re going to want to follow for any legal agreement relating to a relationship, including and especially prenuptial agreements prior to marriage:
- The agreement must be in writing. This is of the utmost importance. As stated above, you cannot have a “verbal agreement” and make it stand up in court. This has the added side effect of making the wording of any prenuptial agreement extremely important, which is just one more reason that you’re going to want to seek out proper legal representation in order to get the best and most accurate expression of your will in any prenuptial agreement.
- Naturally, any prenuptial agreement must be entered into voluntarily.
- “Full disclosure” is absolutely essential in the success of any relationship, and it’s likewise necessary for neatly ending one via a prenuptial agreement. In other words, you need to be open about your assets with your partner, and the nature of those assets, before signing any prenuptial agreement; otherwise, you run the risk of the validity of that prenuptial agreement being called into question in a court of law.
- The agreement cannot conflict with something that would seem to be against “good conscience”—sorry, potentially vindictive exes, but extortionist and blackmail-based prenups will be thrown out.
- It must have “acknowledgement” before the law.
Repercussions for International Marriages
There’s also the issue of international relationships. This is something which has existed in potensia for some time, of course, but with the rise of globalization and multiculturalism, it’s more prevalent than ever. If this is the path love takes you on, however, and you still want a prenuptial agreement, you’re going to want to most likely have your partner come to live in your country, or you live in theirs, as US prenup laws will differ from Canadian ones—and that’s just taking into consideration two closely-connected nations. The further your partner is, the trickier it may be, as cultural factors may enter into the situation as well as legal ones. You can bet, for example, that a prenuptial agreement for a Canadian/Iranian relationship or a US/Israeli one is going to run up against some cultural boundaries. What’s more, these types of relationships may appear doomed to failure from the start if you try to enter into a prenup, or at the very least may seem suspicious (that is, why are you entering into a prenuptial agreement with a partner you don’t even seem to plan to be on the same continent with?) and as such may violate some of the aforementioned rules about going against that which is deemed to be “in good conscience” in a legal sense.
For one thing, prenuptial agreements have a way of becoming more akin to a spider’s web than an escape hatch when it comes to the effect they have on your immediate travel life. Even if you have the a standing agreement already delineated in the clearest possible terms, you’re still likely to face some kind of legal contention on the matter and, even if you don’t, there’s still a boatload of bureaucracy to work through before you can start to resume a normal life. What’s more, traveling during a civil case can have a negative effect on the way in which the judge perceives you.
One new way to save on costs in a long-distance relationship is of course Skype and related mediums for communicating over vast distances in a more personalized manner. That being said, you’re still likely going to have to travel to see your partners, meaning that it might be wise to factor the travel aspect into any prenuptial agreement.