The divorce rate in the United States has been approximately fifty percent for decades.
So, one out of two marriages end in divorce.
Moreover, with the legalization of gay marriage and civil unions, there are likely to be more divorces, simply because there will be more marriages.
Many years ago, a very wealthy couple came to consult with this author to see if their marriage could be repaired through marriage counseling.
This couple was in trouble. The husband had discovered that the wife was having an ongoing affair with another man. In fact, he had video of her leaving a motel room at three o’clock in the morning on several occasions.
In addition, there was a lot of conflict between the wife and her in laws.
After seeing the couple about six times, they both came to the conclusion that it would be best if they would part company and go their separate ways.
They had three young children and substantial assets including several family businesses, a large house in one of the country’s wealthiest communities and a large number off shore bank accounts.
The husband was very angry with the wife and the wife was quite disenchanted with her husband.
I suggested that they try to settle the matter fairly, diplomatically and in a civilized manner. I reminded them that they could use their funds for their children, for their educations and to set up trust funds and help them start their own businesses if that is what they might want to do as they grew up.
I also suggested that they consider mediation as this would allow them to save money, time emotional energy and legal fees.
I also explained that the law was probably pretty clear as to what each of them would get once they dissolved their relationship.
Unfortunately, each of them hired law firms that appeared to be more interested fighting and in generating fees than in settling the matter in a friendly and efficient manner.
After almost two years of fighting and two million dollars in legal fees, they each wound up with exactly what they would have gotten had they settled their case early on.
Anecdotes like this one are still all too common where divorce law is concerned.
According to the famous and highly respected New York attorney, Barry Slotnick, “The best way to avoid this kind of mess, is to utilize prenuptial agreements prior to entering into a marriage.”
As Mr. Slotnick noted in our recent interview, “A prenuptial agreement is needed when two people have a lot of assets and when one person has more assets and wealth than does another.”
A prenuptial is very much like a preventative approach in medicine.
So, if your economic situation warrants it, consider entering into this kind of agreement prior to getting married.