Meet the parents? Check. Organise the proposal? Check. Discuss the prenup? Check.
Lady Gaga and fiancé Taylor Kinney began to settle a prenuptial agreement a few months ago, and rumour had it that the decision supposedly caused some tension between the two. Allegations of arguments emerged. However, it is likely that the purportedly “offended” boyfriend was merely fabricated gossip. With Lady Gaga’s successful career – alongside an impending purchase of a $20m Manhattan penthouse – a tale of a controversial prenup battle was inescapable. Indeed, the happily engaged couple do not seem strained: more recent reports reveal that Kinney is as proud of Lady Gaga for her amazing cooking as he is for her Grammy and Golden Globe nominations. But celebrity talk aside, what is it about prenups that render them a sensitive topic?
Spouses-to-be may choose to enter into a prenup prior to formalising their marriage in order to establish the principles upon which they wish to divide their assets in the event that they separate further down the road. Granted, it is not the most romantic pursuit to take part in before a wedding ceremony, and surely it isn’t for everyone. But it is worth noting that the highly practical option is available for those who feel it might suit their situations. A landmark 2010 case, Radmacher v Granatino, established that fair prenup agreements are legally valid in the UK.
First and foremost, the contract is actually more beneficial for a relationship than one would assume. If partners are unable to hold an honest conversation about their current assets, or share to each other how they prefer to handle their respective wealth as rightfully independent individuals, then that may indicate a problem area in terms of trust and transparency. One of the attributes of a strong, stable union is that comforting type of straightforwardness – not only regarding financial figures, but also about fears, aspirations, desires and thoughts. Before a pair proceeds to tie the knot, they should ensure before anything else that nobody has a knot in the stomach: pre-empting any potential source of anxiety is a sensible practice that fiancés will thank themselves for later. Besides, no number of heart-shaped chocolates can compare to the gift of heartfelt candidness and wholehearted acceptance. I’d pick a rosy future over roses any day.
Second, prenups are also advantageous on the personal level. Nobody looks forward to an accident whenever they sign a liability waiver, just as nobody hopes that their account will be compromised whenever they confirm online terms and conditions. Likewise, nobody is apathetic to the thought of terminating a union one day. Signing a prenup to look after one’s property is simply a pragmatic move – call it crisis management, or call it marital breakdown insurance – if all does not go according to plan. If you never end up needing it then congratulations on your golden anniversary, but it does not hurt that you were smart enough to be ten steps ahead. If you do find yourself revisiting that prenuptial agreement years later, at least you will be dusting it off with a huge sigh of relief – and not one of regret. It’s natural to feel inclined to protect your fortune anyway. Paul McCartney’s cautionary lack of prenup cost him £24.3m, while Britney Spears’ wise preparation only cost her $1m. Even if neither you nor your future spouse owns a yacht, the underlying principle is: you do not want your hard work to go to waste.
Lastly, the normalisation of prenup arrangements contributes to the betterment of family law. Traditional vows themselves state “for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer”, and trouble-free prenups do serve as reassurance that someone intends to walk down the aisle not in search of a treasure chest but rather in search of a valued companion. At the same time, prenups are receptive to the socio-economic changes that have allowed women to increase their earning power in the work place. Whether it happens to be a man who earns more or it is a woman with the higher income, or perhaps they are both at the same level, but both may want to preserve their wealth and asset position.
So ditch the Poker Face and be expressive about your aims. On that note, don’t gamble at this stage of your life – make well-informed choices concerning who you will marry, under what circumstances you will marry and what will transpire after you marry. If your significant other somehow refuses to cooperate with your fixed prenup objectives, then it might be a Bad Romance if they do not acknowledge that you were Born This Way.
Isabel is a guest blogger for Grayfords. She obtained her Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science with a minor in Economics from Barnard College of Columbia University in New York City. She is currently pursuing the Graduate Diploma in Law at The University of Law in London.