It's not just about the alimony anymore. Today's prenuptial agreements actually dictate what happens both during and after a marriage. In fact, lifestyle clauses are springing up as frequently as bizarre baby names in the marriage contracts of celebrities and high income couples. And, like fashion trends, these clauses may just catch on in the prenups of regular Joes and Janes.
Although confidentiality clauses prevent attorneys from naming famous clients, such clauses are not stopping lawyers from revealing some of the juicier details in unnamed client prenups.
Fido, Fluffy, and the Pool Boy
Who gets the dog in the event of a breakup? Custody and visitation rights for pooches are as important for four-footed "kids" as for two-footed ones.
You take the gardener; I get the pool boy. With good help so hard to find, domestic labor divisions are often decided in advance. Even babysitters are divvied up between spouses.
Football 1, Mother-in-Law 0
One client's prenuptial agreement limited her husband to watching one Sunday football game with friends. For a dedicated sports fan, such a choice could be tough. No word on if there was a clause about watching the first half of one game and then the second half of another.
In-law issues were covered in one prenup barring the mother-in-law from sleepover visits. Another prenuptial agreement encouraged one husband to curb his tongue around the in-laws. The consequences? He has to pony up $10,000 each time he's rude to his wife's parents.
One attorney prepared a marriage contract that limited how much time a couple could spend with their in-laws (no more than two consecutive days). Given the stress of family visits, this one could be ripe for wider adoption.
Adding a few extra pounds can cost more than the price of a new wardrobe. One wife's prenuptial agreement limited her weight to 120 lbs. Penalty for being over the fighting weight: she gives up $100,000 of her separate property.
Another prenuptial agreement included a $500 fine for each excess pound the wife gained. All's fair in lifestyle clauses - one wife added a maximum weight stipulation of 180 lbs. for her husband.
Actress Catherine Zeta-Jones is rumored to have an infidelity clause in her prenup with Michael Douglas. Jones stands to pocket several million if Douglas is unfaithful. Since sleeping around isn't exactly rare in the acting world, this little clause would definitely motivate a fidelity doubletake.
Just Say No to Drug Addicts and Workaholics
One prenuptial agreement contained a requirement for random drug testing. Positive results result in fines. Another contract stipulated how long the husband could work before he retired.
Catholic or Jewish, Meat or Veggies
When it comes to child rearing plans, some prenups read like parenting books. Prenups can include specifics such as whether the child will be reared as a vegetarian and what school the child will attend. Nothing is left to chance. In mixed religion households, religious upbringings are decided in advance. The "no diaper" clause is a popular one for couples who don't want to have children.
The Joy of Sex
Sexual issues in prenuptial agreements can include how often a couple will have sex. One elderly pair settled on once a month while a younger couple agreed to 3-4 times a week. Other couples stipulated mandatory sexual positions.
"I Object" - Your Prenup in Court
Although lifestyle clauses are gaining in popularity, they are rarely enforceable in court. In fact, too many bizarre clauses may invalidate the entire prenup. While many states have adopted the Uniform Premarital Agreement Act, uniform standards regarding enforcement of marital contracts have not been established. That leaves the enforcement or voiding of an agreement at a judge's discretion, which can reflect court values, not uniform law.
Some judges have tried to apply general commercial contract law to prenuptial agreements. However, this ignores public policy concerns with respect to family law matters.
Until a uniform set of standards for enforcing prenuptial agreements are established, it may be wise for the soon-to-be wedded to limit the number of prenup lifestyle clauses (especially the weirder ones).
To address these personal matters, the couple should make a list of concerns to discuss and prepare a separate document stating each other's wishes and intentions. While this document won't be binding, it can help clarify issues that are important for marital bliss or an amicable split.
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