Tuesday, May 01, 2018

Dr. Laura is Wrong About Prenups For First Marriages - GET ONE!

Well, it happened again. While I agree with Dr. Laura on so much, one thing I definitely disagree with her on is the issue of prenuptial agreements for first marriages. While she urges prenups for "second" marriages when at least one potential spouse has children, she is vehemently against prenups for childless people entering into a first marriage (people shouldn't be marrying if they have minor children).

A woman called in on yesterday's show (April 30, 2018) who sounded happy with her boyfriend, but when the topic of marriage came up, he stated he'd want a prenup. Dr. Laura told the caller (and, as a result, listeners in the same situation) to dump the boyfriend.

This is rare bad advice from her that she gives consistently.

Finding a match for marriage is difficult. The caller (or a listener) could be throwing away a perfectly good match and will now seek out a man who will be willing to sign really bad contracts. Is it really a good idea to enter into a financial partnership (marriage) with someone willing to sign bad financial contracts???

The fact is, the courts already have a prenup for you. It is based on family law in your state. You might as well be encouraged to come up with your own customized one before a marriage license is issued.

Getting a prenup is no more a sign that someone is planning for divorce than homeowner's insurance is planning for your house to burn down. We buy insurance and prepare in other ways for all sorts of things we hope don’t happen or we plan the avoid. Why let the state, which doesn't care at all about morality or how either spouse behaved, decide for you, when you can decide – somewhat – for yourself?

"Ah, but this is different because you can resolve to not leave your spouse and treat them well so they won't leave you."

Let's be real.

Men don't marry thinking they'll want out at some point; otherwise they wouldn't do it. Marriage isn't required, and men can get everything they want without marrying. Almost everyone marrying already enters with the mindset that it will work. Otherwise they wouldn't be getting married. Well, except for golddiggers. A man doesn't have to be wealthy to be targeted by a golddigger. Any woman who entertains the idea that she'll get financially compensated in the event of divorce (or the death of her husband) is a golddigger.

People who complain that a spouse who insists on a prenup is selfish or materialistic are themselves those things, or they would be happy to sign a personalized prenup and prove they aren’t marrying for money and plan to stay in the marriage and keep the other spouse satisfied enough to stay in the marriage.

The fact is, someone can choose wisely and treat kindly, and it can still fall apart because a brain injury, disease, or some other trauma can turn a reasonable person into someone reckless, irrational, and hostile.

And some people do hide who they are long enough to get what they want. I know Dr. Laura and others insist this is not possible, but it clearly is. If it were not possible, we couldn't have people who infiltrate organizations for undercover law enforcement or spies. People hide who they are all of the time, and especially if someone is gainfully employed  and gone for at the barest minimum of 45 hours (when including commuting) per week, the other person can be doing all sorts of things their working spouse doesn't know about.

In Dr. Laura's model, a man shouldn't be able to date unless they can support a wife and kids; marriage shouldn't be entered into until the late 20s. This means Dr. Laura says men should establish themselves and be well into their career. For a lot of men, this is going to mean they've started and built up a business, perhaps have created some intellectual property. Without a prenup, his wife can be a terrible wife and leave him and take a significant portion of the business he built and the property he acquired/created before he married her (especially if anything appearing to be "co-mingling" happened), even if she was nothing but a hindrance to his continued success.

This is immoral.

Why should this all be placed in the hand of a judge who doesn't, or usually can't care about how either spouse has behaved, who filed for divorce, etc.?

That's insanity and fiscally reckless.

Dr. Laura recognizes inheritances are not part of community property. Why shouldn't what a man (or woman, for what matter) has built up before marriage be thought of along the same lines? A prenup can ensure that is the case, in so far as a judge honors it. An inheritance comes from something a parent or some other relative did, not what someone did themselves. Why does Dr. Laura agree an inheritance should be protected from divorce but not what someone has accomplished themselves, on their own?

Under Dr. Laura's model, a husband will be the financial engine of the family. His earnings will pay the bills for not only his expenses, but those of his wife and the children as the wife stays with the children instead of working. Even when the children are in school (not until Kindergarten), which will be private school (= $$$$$) provided they aren't homeschooled, the wife/mother will not work full time as she will need to be with the kids before and after school. Dr. Laura advises against men men being the parent who stays with the kids (at least for the first three years of life) and against women marrying men who earn/have less than they do.

What this means is that should there be a divorce (most of which are initiated by wives), in addition to the risk of losing what he acquired/created before marrying, the husband will be required to pay alimony. (Don't confuse alimony for child support - men can still be required to provide child support without requiring them to provide alimony.) In states like California, that is one day of alimony for every two days married; if the marriage lasted ten years or "close enough", the alimony will be assigned FOR LIFE.

Alimony should no longer be standard just because one spouse earns more than the other. Dr. Laura recognized the validity of some people earning/having more than the next; why should an ended contract change that between a man and a woman? We live in a day and age in which women have equal access to the workplace, property ownership, and investing. A woman demanding alimony should have to show a prior promise to a certain level of support (“We’re getting married now, I don’t want you to work…”) – hence one of the important reasons to have a customized prenup. Why should women who continue along the same career path as before they got married get any alimony in the event of a divorce, unless that was specified in the prenup? Notice that this would work both ways – a husband who refuses to work wouldn’t be able to mooch off of his wife.

But since alimony still IS standard, customized prenups are a must. Why should a woman who insisted on dumping the kids in daycare and keeping her career get money from the man she leaves just because he earns more?

Again, child support is separate from division of community property and alimony. Children can and will still be protected with a prenup. If a woman risks a permanent reduction in earning potential for "staying home" with the kids, that's exactly something that can be addressed in a prenup, because both spouses will have their own lawyers. This sure is looking like something that suggests Dr. Laura thinks women should always be paid money for sex. A lot of men think that way. Sex is already a mutual exchange; no money should be owed. If money is transferred, the payer has no obligation to care about what the payee wants. Legally speaking, marriage is mostly a wealth transfer mechanism. But sex is no longer a requirement. That's awfully convenient for certain people.

Prenups can be avoided entirely: Don't marry. Most men shouldn't marry. Women (and some men) have reacted to that by marrying the government. The government will take the money from the men (more than women) who earn it, and redistribute it to people they don't even know.

But don't marry. Most men don't really have a good reason to, and if they think about it, won't.

Do Get a Prenup

If you absolutely must get married, don't do it without a prenup. That some women will refuse to sign one is OK. That filters out some of the women you shouldn't marry anyway. With the high divorce rate and the laws being what they are, and with the lawyers having financial incentives to drag out divorces and make them as contentious as possible, a prenup is a must these days.

If someone is dealing with a potential spouse who gets insulted at the thought of a prenup because "it shouldn't be about money" or something along those lines, they should counter with "You’re right - and this will guarantee that our marriage isn't about money." Guys, a woman who truly plans on being a good wife and getting married for life has nothing to fear from a prenup that you'll come up with together, with your own lawyers. If she won't do it, don't marry her. It is that simple.

I would advise not setting a marriage date until a prenup is finalized. It can even be used in planning the wedding, such as how much money will be spent on what and by whom. It should be part of the process that ensures that there are no secrets being kept from either spouse about financial status, credit history and scores, obligations, judgments, etc. and part of overall financial planning they should do together.

A prenup will not cause divorce any more than car insurance causes accidents. Guys, if a woman questions whether or not you trust her, given that you want a prenup, ask her if she trusts that you'll want to stay married to her and vice-versa. If there is never a divorce, the prenup won't matter, will it? It is possible that a woman who objects to a prenup does not have confidence in her ability to keep a husband (or, perhaps she doesn’t plan on trying to) or wants to have the option of leaving you and treating you like a meal ticket long after she does. Ladies - if he doesn't want to reveal everything, he may be hiding something more than debt.
  • You will each need your own lawyers to work out the prenup.
  • It has to be signed before a wedding date is set.
  • The signing should be with both of you present, your lawyers present, and a (retired) judge going over the document on a video recording, ensuring that everyone understands and agrees to each part of the prenup and is willingly entering into the agreement.
  • Full financial disclosure should be included, including all known liabilities and reasonably possible liabilities, credit reports, expectations and goals, who will be responsible for what, what each is bringing into the marriage.
  • Yes, there should be explicit agreements about what will happen, financially, should the marriage 
Don't fall for the "Don’t you trust me?" line, or "Why do you care so much about money?" The fact is, if the other person trusts you, isn't using you for your money, and is a secure person, they should have no problem with a process like this.

In this posting, I disagreed with Dr. Laura about a male caller putting his wife on the deeds to homes he acquired before marrying,

This is something I wrote about men protecting themselves.

Finally, I'll say again most men shouldn't marry, but here are some questions to ask to see if you're right for each other.

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