There’s Careful, and Then There’s Picky

I’ve talked very briefly about pre-nups before, but I tend to avoid the topic because I think the whole idea is a little weird. To me, working out a pre-nuptial agreement is like saying, “We’ll be together forever, of course, BUUUUT just in case we’re not, I want to make sure I get what I deserve/you don’t get more than you deserve.”

Not being overly moneyed myself, the only comparable thing I could have said to The Beard would have been, “We’ll be together forever, of course, BUUUUT just in case we’re not, I’m going to want my William Shatner records and that $4,000 I brought into the marriage back.” Sounds silly, right?

It’s not the silliest idea for a pre-nup out there, however. LegalZoom published a short list of crazy clauses that brides- and grooms-to-be agreed were fair. Pool boys and pets play a larger role in pre-nuptial agreements than you might have imagined. Yes, sometimes it’s not enough to divide assets…domestic help gets shuffled around in the fray. The “no diaper” clause is apparently popular among those looking to avoid children, and some couples even stipulate how (and how often) they’ll have sex.

Not weird enough for you? Check these out:

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.

One prenuptial agreement contained a requirement for random drug testing. Positive results result in fines.

One client’s prenuptial agreement limited her husband to watching one Sunday football game with friends. No word on if there was a clause about watching the first half of one game and then the second half of another.

Now I’m all for health, getting high on life, and avoiding televised sports, but 120 pounds? Drug tests? Designated sports time? Can I say right now that I hope that these people’s partners laughed them right out of the lawyer’s office because I don’t see how anyone required to shell out $500 per pound gained is going to last in a lifelong marriage.

13 Responses to “There’s Careful, and Then There’s Picky”

  1. KTB says:

    One of my coworkers has a clause in her prenup that specifies that they will only have boxers as pets. I guess it works for them, but I’d prefer a little leeway in my dog breed choices!

  2. dr nic says:

    Those clauses are insane. And people told me I was crazy for marrying my husband before I graduated medical school (my state has a clause in divorce laws that gives the spouse of a physician a good deal of money if they were married before graduation). People were telling me I was crazy for thinking that my marriage was going to last. What must these people be thinking?

  3. kate says:

    I really hope the 120 lb requirement goes unenforced as being against public policy. Cuz daaamn. It’s not that I wish these people ill, but i really want that to blow up in the face of whoever dreamt it up.

    The others – the drug tests, the football, the dog breeds – i just roll my eyes. I guess if it’s really that important to you, better to get it on the table now. Altho the drug test does give me shivers – if you trust your partner that little, why bother getting married???

  4. rach says:

    ridiculous….. i agree with kate- some of that stuff it just flippantly silly, but that weight thing is just sick. i became chronically ill about a year BEFORE my fiancee and i were engaged and throughout all the hospitalization/diagnosis process, i gained about twenty pounds to my already well-endowed scandanavian build. luckily, my man was so sweet and crazy enough about me that he stuck to my side like glue through it all and he even likes all the extra curvage 😉 thats the kinda of guy you want around for the long haul- not someone who is going to fine you for extra poundage…..

  5. daisyj says:

    Those clauses are completely ridiculous– um, if someone wouldn’t want to be married to you if you weighed more that 120 pounds, maybe you might want to rethink this?– but I will say that a prenup can be a very good idea in some cases, such as if you own your own business. Yes, it’s unromantic, but the fact is that marriages do fail, and without some kind of prior arrangement you can end up in some pretty deep water. I like Miss Manners’ way of dealing with the conversation: blame a third party.

    “I’m so sorry, darling, but my lawyer is being an absolute beast about this, and he just will not let me go on without doing it. I know we’ll never use it, but he does insist…”

  6. Twistie says:

    These clauses are flat out ridiculous. Bodies change, tastes change, sex drives fluctuate…you can’t guarantee that you won’t change or that your spouse won’t. And if you can’t deal with the idea that your spouse might want a different pet or gain or lose a few pounds, maybe you’re just not ready for marriage.

    OTOH, there are cases where a pre-nup is just plain good sense. If one of you owns a business, if there’s a great deal of family money on one side, or if one or both of you have children from a previous marriage/relationship, then it’s not romantic but it can save a lot of problems not only in case of divorce, but in case of unscrupulous survivors.

    When my grandmother remarried, she insisted on a pre-nup because they both had grown children and she wanted to make sure the right things went to the right progeny. Neither side would have tried to take advantage, but it was a good idea to have it all spelled out, anyway.

    But these clauses? Are utterly ridiculous.

  7. Claire says:

    I’m kind of with you on the whole pre-nup thing. Maybe I’m old-fashioned, maybe I’m naive, but there’s something fatalistic about it, in general. And, when I get married, it’s not likely that either I or my boyfriend will be rolling in cash and worldly possessions anyway.

    Those clauses are terrible, though. As others have noted, I can’t imagine being with someone who couldn’t deal with a little extra poundage, or with someone who can’t tolerate a football passion, etc. Those problems need to be dealt with by having conversations, not adding a clause to the pre-nup so you can hold it over your spouse’s head later. I feel like those sorts of pre-nups are self-fulfilling prophecies.

  8. Dianasaur says:

    I’m pretty athletic and healthy, but probably won’t always be, my family is all overweight. When my husband fell in love with me, his mom said to him “She’s thin right now, but one day she could be the same size as her mother, will you still love her no matter what she looks like?” He was so thankful for that, because he realized at that moment that what I look like didn’t matter to him, he loved ME. I can’t imagine the fear of abandonment that would come with some of these clauses, I don’t think I’d truly feel loved if I had to sign one.

    If there’s one HUGE thing I’ve learned in marriage it’s needing to compromise, and I don’t think people with pre-nup clauses like that will succeed in learning to compromise.

  9. Audrey says:

    Haha! Chris’s grandfather tried to get him to make me sign a prenup. I would have but Chris thought it was ridiculous. The very idea that I’d want to keep any of the crap he dragged out of someone’s trash and into his art studio caused much hilarity. *grin*

  10. Evie says:

    120 lbs?! I sincerely hope that woman doesn’t plan on getting pregnant! Or is she allowed to be over fighting weight for 9 months? Geez.

    Yes, there are cases where a prenup makes sense. Right now, I have a ringside seat for the fight over a family home occurring between two separated adults with grown children. People change, and it can be hard to split up merged assets. Finances are one thing, though, personal habits are another entirely!

  11. De says:

    My boyfriend of 7 years and I have discussed it – he has family money in the form of a trust fund that doesn’t have it’s own clauses in place regarding marriage – and we live in Texas, a community property state. Meaning without a prenup, it could get really hairy as to what money in what accounts belongs to whom.

    I have always said I was willing to get a prenup that specifies that I get no money from his trust, or money made from his trust, without a written addendum signed by both parties and a witness.

    Similarly, we don’t want to get in the same situation that a friend did – when he said he wanted a divorce, she said “ok” and then went out and racked up huge CC debt, knowing he’d get tagged with half of THAT as well. A clause saying ‘debt incurred individually does not get split” would make us very happy.

    It doesn’t bother me that he would want one – he’s seen family members and friends get burned by spouses who claimed neverending love. I don’t see it as him not trusting me, but not trusting how our emotions might make us act in the future. I don’t think we’ll ever *need* the paperwork, so I don’t mind getting it, if it makes him happy.

    (However, I see no reason for a clause about pool boys or dog breeds. I especially won’t be seeing anything about weight restrictions.)

  12. troilinka says:

    Not sure if it’s true, but I’ve heard that before she married the womanizing Michael Douglas, Catherine Zeta Jones inserted a clause in her pre-nup that stated if he cheated , he would have to pay her $5million bucks! That sounds like a good insurance policy to me!

  13. La BellaDonna says:

    I think some of them, particularly the weight ones, are appalling. Five hundred dollars for every pound she gains? Women’s weight can swing up and down by several pounds in a day! Who’s going to keep track of all that banking? And the woman who’s stuck at 120 pounds – yes, what about pregnancy? If she’s in a car crash and loses a limb, is she allowed to gain additional weight back up to the original 120 pounds?

    It makes it absolutely clear that it’s about the package and not the person, and for the person who finds looks THAT important, there’s a simpler solution: rent what you want by the hour, instead of by the week, month, and year.

    I didn’t see any fines being levied upon guys who couldn’t rise to the occasion, either. I seriously don’t blame anyone for wanting to protect the assets that he or she brought into a relationship – I’ve seen some people, men and women, treated very badly. Very, very badly. But the clauses that mention money are fiscally punitive clauses, not fiscally protective. I’m thinking that some of these relationships are already in trouble.