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Thursday, May 12, 2011

Pre-Nuptial and Post-Nuptial Agreements: Do You Really Need One?

What a touchy subject! We hear in the media about celebrity couples signing these agreements, but what about the average bride and groom? Are they for the everyday couple, who is so in love that they can’t imagine their marriage ending? We will not tell you how you should feel about a pre-nup or post-nup, but we want to present you some facts so that you and your spouse (or future spouse) can make the best decision for you!

Pre-Nuptial Agreement
According to http://prenuptialagreements.org, this agreement is one “between two people that deals with the financial consequences of their marriage ending.” This site advises that a couple should consider this agreement if one partner has more assets or more debt than the other, you are a part owner in a business, or if you are remarrying. A pre-nuptial agreement (also known as a pre-marital agreement or an ante-nuptial agreement) can be looked at as an insurance policy. Forms can be used to help facilitate this process, but it’s important to get legal counsel in this area.

The history of the pre-nuptial agreement is quite interesting: these agreements were designed to protect the dowry and other possessions of women. Before the passage of the Married Women’s Property Act of 1848, a woman's entire property passed to her husband on their wedding day. And if the marriage ended (by either death or divorce), the wife could lose everything. So, these agreements were initially drawn up to spell out which property would remain with the bride’s family.

Post-Nuptial Agreement
Wikipedia defines a post-nuptial agreement as “a written contract executed after a couple gets married, or have entered a civil union, to settle the couple's affairs and assets in the event of a separation or divorce.”

If you and your spouse did not sign a pre-nuptial before your wedding, a post-nuptial may be for you. According to http://www.EqualityinMarriage.org, your marriage is subject to your state's marriage laws, if there is no agreement in place. Without one, if your marriage ends, decisions about property distribution are left to a judge to make. When drawing up this agreement, items to consider include current and future income and debt, medical and disability insurance coverage, and any alimony that will be payable to a spouse. According to the site above, this agreement can also be used in case of the death of one spouse.

In the case of either a pre- or post-nuptial agreement, both parties should be represented by separate counsel.

Should my future spouse and I draw up one of these agreements?
Only you and your spouse can answer this question, and both of you should agree on how you want to proceed (one spouse should not be coerced into signing if he or she is not comfortable). Your perception of what these agreements represent (i.e., we are already planning for our marriage to fail) may determine if this is for you or not. Also, if you choose as a couple to move in this direction, it is no one’s business but your own…the decision is yours and yours alone. On a side note, this is a great thing to discuss during pre-marital counseling!

Your Planning Assignment
Consider this question carefully and wisely. Do your research and talk it over honestly with your future spouse.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Thoughts on the Royal Wedding

That would be me....I, too, am a Queen!
As I write this, the Royal Wedding is now in the recent past. We speculated on what it would be like, tweeted our reactions in real time, and watched hours and hours of live coverage. The purpose of this blog is not to critique wedding attire, give commentary on the royal hats, or to gush over the beauty of everything (yes, it was a beautiful wedding). I am just sharing what some of my first thoughts were as I watched Prince William and Kate Middleton (now Princess) become husband and wife.

Every bride is beautiful, no matter how simple or ornate her wedding is.
As Kate entered Westminster Abbey, the look on her face was one of excitement with a touch of nerves. She glowed with anticipation at seeing her future husband. Doesn’t every bride have that same glow, no matter what ethnicity, age or economic status? Every bride is beautiful!

The Queen of England carries her purse just like my grandmother did!
As The Queen entered Westminster Abbey in her lovely yellow attire, my eyes fell on her purse. I laughed out loud as I thought about my grandmother Catherine Fields. She was a height-challenged lady (i.e., she was short), but was tall in grace. She wore a hat to church regularly and always made sure her purse matched her shoes. It made me smile to realize that elderly ladies are alike in some regards, whether they are the queen of a country or just carry themselves like one!

Planning is key!
Whether a guest list is 50 or 500, planning is key to a memorable experience for the couple as well as for their guests. Do you think Kate worried about where her bouquet was, or what was coming next in the order of things? I would say no, because much planning went into making her day everything it was. And speaking of planning….

What was the planner’s life like the week of the wedding?
I would love to have been able to peer into the planner’s life the week leading up to April 29. Was she stressed out? Was she waking up in the middle of the night thinking about things that needed to be done the next day? Her plans went off without a hitch, so hopefully she has now taken a well-deserved spa trip or vacation!

What was going through the mind of the father of the bride?
Because his daughter was center stage, so was he! Did he cry before they entered the car to travel to the wedding? Did he have any final words of wisdom for her before her life changed forever? Whatever they shared in that brief car ride I’m sure will be cherished by the both of them.

As with every couple I work with, I pray that their marriage is a happy one.
The pomp, circumstances, money, etiquette and drama mean absolutely nothing if the marriage is not one filled with joy and peace. No marriage is perfect, but should be one with love, mutual respect, and fun. This is my wish for Prince William and Kate.