You Want Me To Sign What?!? Getting A Prenup In The 21st Century

My brain is fried from studying so I figured I would take some time and do a non-Bar related post. I read an interesting article in the ABA Journal (original article) dealing with prenups. I am sure you have heard about celebrities putting clauses in their prenups about what happens if one of the spouses commits adultery. Celebrities are now not only putting adultery clauses in their prenups, but they are also putting lifestyle clauses. From my understanding of the reading, lifestyle clauses basically spell out the rules between a couple on how to maintain their relationship. So this would include things like requiring a spouse to maintain a certain weight, look a certain way, how many times they have sex, and things of that nature. Apparently these clauses are not just being used to punish a spouse (for say cheating), but some are also meant to deter spouses from a particular behavior. Keith Urban will not get any money from Nicole Kidman if he goes back to using illegal drugs.

Interestingly enough, the article goes on to mention that it is not sure just how enforceable these clauses are, but celebrity divorce attorney Robert Wallack did have an adultery penalty that he drafted upheld in courts. I do think that the clauses involving things like adultery have a better chance of being upheld than say a clause for a spouse having to maintain a particular body weight.

I have always found the idea of prenups interesting. Logically, I understand the reasoning for them, especially if one spouse comes to the marriage really well off and the other spouse has nothing. I do not think that it is fair for the initially not so well off spouse to come in and take a big chunk of what the well off spouse had before the marriage. Now, on the flip side, I do think the initially not so well off spouse should be entitled to a chunk of what he or she helped the initially well off spouse obtain during their marriage. If the couple works together to become wealthy, then there is no reason that both parties should not benefit from that hard work.

I have heard some people say that signing a prenup is basically setting your marriage up for failure. To a certain extent, I can understand where they are coming from, but I disagree. I know marriage should be about love and you should not be thinking about what happens if the marriage ends. However, with the way the economy and job market is now, I do think this is something a couple should at least think about. To me, signing a prenup is not saying ‘I know this marriage will not work, so let me plan for what happens when it falls apart.’ A prenup is saying, ‘In case this marriage does not work, we already have a plan in place to make the split as painless as possible.’ I have worked in the area of family law and I know just how bitter and vindictive some couples can be towards each other when they are going through a divorce. Prenups are simply one way to cut some of that potential hostility out.

So what do y’all think? Are prenups setting a marriage up for disaster? Would you be offended if your fiancé asked you to sign a prenup before you two got married?

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Being Deployed Doesn’t Make Me A Bad Parent

Service members face many challenges, especially service members that are also parents. One issue in particular arises when the parents are separate…the issue of custody. There have been several news articles about service members that initially had custody of their child(ren), but after they were deployed, have lost custody or must now fight to maintain custody.

It blows my mind that you can do the honorable thing of serving your country, but then you may have to worry about whether or not you will lose your child(ren). I feel like if you are willing to make that sacrifice, the then non-custodial parent should not be able to unilaterally (so it seems) be able to take custody from you. And it appears I am not the only one. Co-sponsors Republican Rep. Michael Turner of Ohio and Democratic Rep. Robert Andrews of New Jersey introduced H.R. 1898 to provide some protection to deployed service members.

If the bill is made a law, if a court temporarily changes custody from the service member parent, to the then non-custodial parent based solely on deployment or anticipated deployment, once that service member returns from deployment, the custody order that was in place before should be reinstated. The only reason that the previous custody order should not be reinstated is if it would not be in the best interest of the child (which is generally the standard courts use to determine custody issues). In regards to the best interests of the child, the court will be able to use the service member’s deployment or potential deployment as one factor to permanently modify custody, but that cannot be the sole determining factor.

The bill goes on to speak on federal jurisdiction issues, preemption issues, definition of deployment, and the clerical amendment for the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act.

Now, being a future attorney, I must play devil’s advocate lol. I can understand why a deployed service member having custody may not be in the child’s best interest; especially, if that service member is deployed repeatedly. With the custodial parent being deployed repeatedly, that child might have to be uprooted and go to another home, another school, and potentially have to make all new friends. Now I know you may be thinking any military brat will have to face these issues, but when a parent is deployed, the child could face these issues several times within one year. 

All that being said, I still think this bill is a great idea. I really hope this becomes a law. I do not think any person should have to choose between serving his/her country or keeping custody of his/her child(ren).

What do y’all think? Should deployment be a sole factor in permanently modifying a custody order?