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Publication: Fifty & Furthermore
Prenuptial Agreements - yes or no?

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FIFTY & FURTHERMORE - Thursday, August 17, 2006

"I'm Dr. Dorree Lynn. Growing older can be a time for 
creative and passionate living, and I will apply my years 
as a psychologist to help you with the challenges and 
wonders that come with this new life stage."
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Hello and welcome to FIFTY & FURTHERMORE! 

Last issue I posted a letter from a reader concerning sign-
ing a prenuptial agreement. Many of you wrote in with your 
opinions on the matter. Please keep sharing your thoughts!  
If you would like to make a comment or ask me a question, 
please email me at the address below and as always, I will 
do all 
I can to provide you with the advice you seek.

As I always say, "life is too hard to do alone - reach 
out!"

Dr. Dorree Lynn, Psychologist


Please send questions and comments to: 

email Dr. Lynn


Question:
 
In re the subject of prenups:
 
I'm weighing in on this subject from the vantage point of 
a retired attorney, with some experience in family law and 
domestic relations, both in private practice, and as a 
former Deputy D.A. working in child support enforcement.
 
First of all, the term "pre-nuptial agreement" can mean 
many different things.  Just what exactly is being agreed 
to?
 
Then, the issue is affected by whether the parties reside 
in a community property state. 
 
Most important, in my humble opinion, is the matter of the 
personality traits and characters of the parties themselves.     

I am by nature a romantic idealist, and I can sympathize 
(although not empathize) with the lady who has qualms 
about entering into a pre-nup.  But consider this:  a 
marriage is a partnership, amd it is safely assumed that 
most people would not enter into a marriage partnership 
without a mutual feeling of love and trust.
 
Similarly, it would be assumed that two persons would not 
enter into a business partnership without first signing a 
legally binding partnership agreement, even though there 
is trust between the parties.  If they didn't trust each 
other, it is unlikely that they would even consider form-
ing a partnership.  But it is not sufficient for the 
parties to say "we don't need a business partnership 
agreement, because we trust each other."  
 
There are unforeseeable complications which can arise in 
any partnership.  In a marriage,  there may be a basic 
underlying incompatibility, effectively masked by the 
initial euphoria of infatuation neurosis.  (Usually a 
matter of disagreement on financial matters, or concern-
ing the raising of children).  There may be problems 
created by interference of meddlesome relatives.  At some  
point down the road, one of the parties might develop a 
mental incapacity, making reasonable compromises 
impossible.  There are many reasons why a pre-nup, rather 
than signifying a lack of trust, actually should impart a 
feeling of confidence and stability to the relationship. 
 
At the far end of the spectrum, is the matter of live-in 
arrangements without marriage, based on the statement "...
if we truly love each other, why do we need a piece of 
paper?"  From both a social and a legal standpoint, I would 
throw up my hands and say "to those who understand, no 
explanation is necessary.  To those who don't understand, 
no explanation is possible."  


Answer:

I thank you for providing a point of view that makes both 
those for and against pre-nups stop and think. I hope the 
writer of the letter is able to recognize her partner's 
insistence on a pre-nup as a sign of him wanting stability, 
while he is able to understand her rationale for being 
opposed to it. You have provided some wonderful insight 
for them to consider.

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Question:

I just finished reading the letter from the woman worried 
about signing a prenup.  Both of these people have collect-
ed many things through thier lives let alone any monetary 
wealth.  I can see her point about trust but, I also real-
ize what he is thinking.  What would happen if he dies 
first?  She would inherit everything and when she passes 
on leave it all to her child, leaving his children nothing 
of what he saved many years for.  Both of my parents passed 
in the last couple of years.  The biggest arguement any of
the five of us had was who was going to take something or 
it was going to be given away.  One of my brothers had 
married for his second time to a woman that had nothing but 
debt and three rotten kids.  As soon as he got the first 
inhieritance check she was thinking of ways to spend it on 
her kids. They didn't need it for living expenses, just 
wanted to spend.  This would have left nothing that our 
parents had saved to pass on to his own kids. His kids have 
more right to our parents savings than hers do.  As long as
she is taken care of and her daughter is fairly compensated 
on her passing there shouldn't be a problem. This should 
go the same way if she passes first.

Answer:

You make a very coherent point when you put things in 
perspective of the children. A prenup doesn't only come 
into play when spouses divorce, but also when one dies 
unexpectedly. The children shouldn't have to deal with 
claiming inheritances and fighting in court while at the 
same time grieving their parent's death. Like you said, 
as long as it is equally fair to all collective offspring, 
it seems a prenup may serve to show the children that 
their welfare is being taken care of too.

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Question:

View As Web Page
I just read your mail from the woman who did not want a pre-
nup and thought this meant her husband didn't trust her.  
Well, my Dad was married to my Mom for a long time and had 7 
children.  They divorced and he remarried and had 3 more 
children.  They did not have a prenup and guess what?  When 
Dad died his 2nd wife and their 3 kids got everything.  This 
was so unfair to his other children and not what he would 
have wanted.  She was an okay person but I doubt she would 
have married him if she had to sign a prenup.  So there is 
another side to this.  She would have still had a house and 
his retirement money, and lived comfortably.  He did have a 
lot of other things that were sold and brought in a lot of 
money.  I think this woman is being selfish in not wanting 
him to protect his children.

Answer:

You are one of many readers who have written in saying they 
wished they or their parents had signed a prenup in hind-
sight. Especially when you are dealing with 2nd and 3rd 
marriages, the possibility for unexpected complications 
following divorce or death is great. While I can understand 
the writer's feelings regarding signing a pre-nup, she may 
not have considered what may happen to her and her children 
if she does not. I thank you for warning us of one possible 
danger of NOT signing your name.

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     For more insight and advice from Dr. Lynn visit:              
fiftyandfurthermore.com

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