Prenuptial Agreements: More Than Just for Assets?

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Our Pittsburgh Family Law Attorneys frequently advise our clients who come in before marriage to consider drafting a prenuptial agreement setting out property divisions and support in the case of divorce. These agreements can specify such provisions as who gets the cars, how much alimony to which a party would be entitled, and preserving inheritance for children and grandchildren of previous marriages.

Some couples are taking prenuptial agreements to new levels, with so called “love contracts.” These contracts go beyond the usual property division and support provisions of the agreements. Instead, they specify frequency of sex, punishment for adultery, and lifestyle requirements, such as weight gain and smoking.

In Pennsylvania, most of these provisions would not be enforceable because the Courts are generally unwilling to dictate minute details of people’s lives. This is also the case in many other states, however the drafting of these agreements is intended to have a psychological effect, not necessarily a physical effect. Some attorneys, despite the small chance that these agreements will be enforced by Courts, will recommend that they be drafted in order to air out all annoyances and “dealbreaker” behaviors that could be problematic later.

The most common provision in a “love contract” pertains to adultery. In many of these contracts, the spurned spouse is entitled to a cash or property payment (generally a very substantial one) in the case that the other spouse cheats. For example, Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones reportedly have a provision in their love contract wherein Catherine receives a $5 million bonus at divorce if Douglas is found to be cheating. Other contracts provide for pets, time together, and vacations.

There is also a variety of “love contract” for cohabitating couples, with these provisions written into cohabitation agreements. Similar to love contracts for married couples, these types of agreements are meant to minimize problems later. One possible use of a love cohabitation agreement is in specifying that the parties are not, and do not intend to, get married. That way, in states that still recognize common law marriage, there can be no claim that the parties held themselves out as married.

Will these new contracts lead to a decrease in divorce? We’ll have to wait and see. Even if love contracts will not be enforceable in Pennsylvania Courts, talking about possible prenuptial agreement provisions is always a good idea. Contact our Allegheny County family lawyers today to discuss drafting your prenuptial agreement!