Interviewer: What are some of the top misconceptions that people have about divorces or just family law in general?
Divorce in the 21st Century: Divorce Doesn’t Have to Be Acrimonious and Child Custody Is Not Solely Awarded to the Mother
Paul Tafelski: The first misconception about divorce is that one of them has to be very bitter and that the endeavor has to be very expensive. Another one is that the mother always gets custody. I think that situation is changing a lot in the last few years. A lot of judges now look at the situation and say, “Why shouldn’t it be joint custody?”
Prenuptial Agreements No Longer Have a Negative Connotation
That’s the starting point with some judges now. I think with prenuptial agreements, a big misconception is that it’s a negative in starting a marriage.
In many cases, you could be talking about second marriages for both parties and they each have their own assets. They each have children from their first marriage and they just want everything to be safe and protected and that gives everybody peace of mind. No one is offended or bothered by it and it goes very smooth.
That’s probably the majority of prenuptial agreement situations. Certainly, there are, again, all kinds of situations that can come up in family law. But I think one of the misconceptions is that there’s always one side that’s unhappy about a prenuptial agreement. That’s not always the case.
Interviewer: What is the best way to go about bringing that up and in what ways would that benefit the other party?
Prenuptial Agreements Can Protect Inheritances or Other Family Assets and Are Common in Second Marriages
Paul Tafelski: Every situation is different and everybody’s reason for wanting one is different.
Sometimes, people might stand to inherit money in the future and the pressure is coming from their parents or their family to make sure that this inheritance stays in the family and is protected. It’s not casting dispersions on one party. It’s trying to make sure that some family members don’t make any bad decisions that cause the family their hard-earned money.
Other times, there could be a family business that’s involved. The family wants to make sure that if somebody gets a divorce that it doesn’t affect the other family member’s business interests. In those kinds of situations, it’s pretty easy to bring it up and say, “My family wants to make sure that nothing that ever happens between us affects them and can you understand that?”
Other times, it has to do with protecting their children or the fact that maybe they had a bad prior experience and they’re worried about it. What I found is that if most people just bring up their honest concerns that the person that they’re going to marry usually understands.
The fiancé isn’t too interested in trying to take their pre-existing property away from them. It is important, though, that you create an agreement that is fair to everybody. If you do, then usually the process isn’t too difficult.
A Prenuptial Agreement Can Also Protect Interests in the Event of a Death of One of the Spouses
A lot of times, it deals with the issues of death too. What if somebody dies? If you don’t have a prenuptial, then the outcome is going to be different than if you do.