My husband sprung a prenup on me days before the wedding. Is this normal? Obviously, I went ahead with the marriage. He is a lot wealthier than me, but this was not something we had discussed in the run-up to the marriage.
It came as a shock. I put it aside for the big day so as not to spoil it, but there has been a lingering feeling of resentment on my part in the weeks since we married.
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I don’t blame you for feeling blindsided.
I have no doubt that this happens because a prospective spouse with more money than his/her partner suddenly panics at the last minute and asks their lawyer to draw up a prenuptial agreement — and then buries their head in the sand while the document is delivered.
That’s not a good way to handle challenging conversations, and can lead to “dry rot” forming in a relationship — unspoken hurt and resentment that slowly eat away at trust and intimacy between two people. Whether it’s normal or not doesn’t matter. It’s not normal for you.
It may also be a strategy by some lawyers: spring a prenup at the last minute, acting like it’s the most natural thing in the world with the intention of reducing the time and momentum for negotiation. Marriage is a business contract as much as it is a romantic one. So is a prenup.
During the MarketWatch “Mastering Your Money” video town hall event last week, I put your question to Irene Angelakis, a divorce attorney and adjunct professor at the Hofstra University School of Law in Hempstead, N.Y., and her answer — quite frankly — surprised me.
Is it normal? “Sometimes,” she said. “Yes, it does happen.”
“Always consult with an attorney; do not sign anything without having an attorney review it, especially a prenuptial agreement,” she added. “That is something that will bind you. It’s not something that will be tossed out.”
“There is case law where if you didn’t have enough time to read it or there was duress, then you could end up invalidating it, but that’s really hard and very costly,” Angelakis said. “If there’s going to be a prenup, let’s talk about this months in advance where I have time with a clear head to look at it.”
You can hear more of the Moneyist’s discussion with Irene Angelakis on this and other issues on “Mastering Your Money” here.
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