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16 December 2017Last updated
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Hot debate

Would you sign a prenuptial agreement?

As more and more couples go head to head in divorce courts, we pop the other question

As told to Anna Abouzeid and Catherine Langley
1 Jul 2013 | 12:00 am
  • Source:Supplied picture

YES

Zara*, 31, says that signing a prenup is a win-win situation...

I’ve been a sucker for fairy tales and romance my entire life. When I was a little girl, I dreamed of meeting Prince Charming and living happily ever after in a beautiful castle. Now that I’m 31, the story has changed slightly. I’ve found a prince-like man and after we’re married, we plan to move to a two-bedroomed apartment in the Greens. Not quite Cinderella’s castle, but I’ve never been happier.

My fiancé and I met one year ago and we were engaged six months later. After the second month, I knew this was it; he was my Prince Charming. But I’m not about to let my romantic spirit get in the way of my common sense: we’ve just finished negotiating the terms of our prenuptial agreement.

My fiancé and I believe that we will be together until the end of our lives, but we have to be realistic. We never know what curve balls life will throw us, and for any number of reasons – which may be out of our control – our relationship may change. The only certainty in life is that nothing is certain. With 42 per cent of marriages in the UK** ending in divorce, from a rational perspective, a prenup makes sense. As much as it pains me to think like that, I know I have to because in case it happens, I want to be prepared. And so does he.

Some friends and family members have criticised our decision, suggesting we aren’t fully committed to the relationship, but I see things differently. I think this decision is a reflection of our love and respect for one another. We realise that should our relationship end, we want to part as amicably as possible. Sure, your wedding is a wonderfully romantic celebration of your love, but thanks to our romcom-obsessed culture, we forget that marriage is actually a legal arrangement – a contract. It’s important to understand and be in control of that arrangement.

A prenup isn’t just a good idea for wealthy or celebrity couples and it doesn’t matter whether or not you have millions in the bank. By signing a prenuptial agreement, you’re establishing an understanding so that both you and your spouse know what to expect in the event of a divorce. What will you keep? How much child support will you have to pay? Will you be able to support your children on alimony or will you have to continue to work? A prenup can also prevent you from losing certain assets that you had before you were married like a business, property, family heirlooms and money. That’s not to say you won’t share these things while you share a life, but you never know what will happen in the future.

Many people I’ve talked to about this assume that negotiating a prenup must have put unnecessary pressure on my relationship. But we love and respect each other and it is for that reason we managed to successfully negotiate a fair agreement that we are both happy with. We went to the table knowing that we wouldn’t leave until we were both happy and that took the pressure off worrying whether one of us would get a bigger piece of the pie.

No one said marriage (or pre-marriage in this case) was easy, and it’s not like meeting lawyers has been our idea of the perfect date, but it beats fighting in court, if it ever comes to that. We believe signing a prenup is a win-win situation. If things fall apart, we’re covered and if we live happily ever after – which

I am certain we will – then no harm done.

NO

Emilie*, 29 is a newlywed and believes signing a prenuptial agreement shows a lack of trust within the relationship


When Jennifer Aniston allegedly declined Justin Theroux’s offer to sign a prenuptial agreement, it was described (at best) as a romantic gesture. At worst? An act of lunacy. Many were absolutely flummoxed by the 44-year-old’s decision to put her fortune on the line for love, but I for one felt a huge amount of respect for Jen, who was quoted as saying “I couldn’t be in a relationship without equality, generosity, integrity, sprit, kindness and humour.”

When I tied the knot earlier this year, I was in a similar position. While I don’t have an estimated $150 million to lose, my net worth is considerably more than my husband’s. I have various assets, including two houses and an up-and-coming business. My husband, while successful is yet to make any serious investments and doesn’t have a great deal in savings. However, when we got married, one of the greatest things about our big day was that it became official that we would be together for the rest of our lives - for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health. It’s for this reason it didn’t even cross my mind to sign a prenuptial agreement. Ultimately, why would we need one? Our marriage is going to last.

The way I see it, whether or not I happen to be the ‘better off’ one now, or in the future, I believe that prenuptial agreements show a lack of commitment to the marriage and a lack of faith in the partnership. When you sign on the dotted line, it’s a sign that you’re expecting it to fail, and how can a marriage be a successful relationship filled with trust when you’re essentially saying when you’re already planning the end? Talk about throwing in the towel before you even get started.

Of course, some may say I’m being naive. After all, statistics from the Tawasel Centre for Training and Family show that one in four marriages among the population of the UAE end in divorce, don’t inspire much confidence in the whole ‘til death do us part’ thing. But I think part of the problem is that people say ‘I do’ with a break clause in mind and if more of us saw marriage as a one-shot deal, perhaps we’d work harder at it and there’d be less call for prenuptial agreements.

The other thing that doesn’t sit well with me is the perception it creates of your other half. If that person was good enough for you to walk down the aisle with, what makes you think they’re going to take you to the cleaners if things don’t work out? In the end, if you have a relationship based on ‘equality, generosity, integrity, sprit, kindness and humour’ (to quote Jen once more) you should be able to work things out sensibly if divorce is needed.

As told to Anna Abouzeid and Catherine Langley

As told to Anna Abouzeid and Catherine Langley