Straight Story: Get a pre-nup

Marketplace Staff Apr 13, 2007
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Straight Story: Get a pre-nup

Marketplace Staff Apr 13, 2007
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TESS VIGELAND: It’s time once again for our economics editor Chris Farrell to help you sort out what is smart, what’s stupid and what’s the Straight Story. Chris, it’s springtime. And does any bridal magazine will tell you it’s wedding season.

CHRIS FARRELL: This is true.

VIGELAND:
Which is why, I’m assuming, you wanted us to play this old Paul McCartney chestnut about long-lasting love.

PAUL MCCARTNEY: When I get old and losing my head many years from now, will you still be sending me valentine . . .

VIGELAND:
And I’m 64. Very romantic.

FARRELL:
Yeah. Well, Paul is actually now 64, and he’s in the midst of a nasty divorce.

VIGELAND:
Oh, jeez. A way to ruin the mood. But you know, his ex-wife is doing pretty well on Dancing with the Stars.

FARRELL:
This is true. I haven’t watched it. But I’ve read about this. But, you know, the reason why I mentioned that divorce, you know, there is a really easy way for our listeners to avoid ending up in the same bode as Mr. and former Mrs. McCartney. Here’s the straight story. Contrary to popular mythology, if you want a marriage to last ’til you’re 64 and beyond, you should start by negotiating a pre-nup.

VIGELAND:
What?

FARRELL:
Isn’t that crass?

VIGELAND:
Chris, oh, Chris. Where’s the romantic in you?

FARRELL:
Now, OK.

VIGELAND:
Love is love forever and a day.

FARRELL:
Let’s take a step back. First of all, we’ve got to get past this belief that a pre-nup means you don’t trust each other.

VIGELAND:
Well, doesn’t it?

FARRELL:
No. Think about a long-term commitment. Money is a big part of that relationship. You’re going to own a home, probably. You have a child and then you have earnings. When a couple gets together, they’re creating a small business. And all I’m arguing for is full financial disclosure. What a pre-nup does is it starts a money conversation. Any money conversation in a relationship done over time is what will help hold that relationship together.

VIGELAND:
But there’s a difference between talking about your finances and going in to a marriage saying, hey, you know what? This doesn’t work out. You get this, and I get that.

FARRELL:
Well, so?

VIGELAND:
Oh, Chris.

FARRELL:
I mean, but, you know, it’s . . . what we’re talking about are expectations. And so, you come in with some assets, and you sit down, and you talk about it. And by the way, you don’t do this the day before you go to the altar.

VIGELAND:
You’re not gonna make it to the altar then.

FARRELL:
Yeah. Exactly. Well, let’s hope not. You know, this is something that you start talking about long in advance. And by the way, I wanna be, I’m somewhat agnostic here. Now, there’s the hardcore. And the hardcore believes this has to be a legal document. I don’t really care. I think if you have a lot of assets, a lot of liabilities, if you’re Paul McCartney, you didn’t have a pre-nup, where were his advisers? I have no idea. He should have.

VIGELAND:
Whoops.

FARRELL:
In those situations, he needs lawyers. And by the way, both parties get represented. But in a lot of cases, you may not need a lawyer. But what you really do need is glisten up with a written document. It doesn’t matter whether it’s legal, . . . And so, you really start working things through. If you don’t have that conversation, you’re gonna have it after you’re married when there’s a lot of pressure. So why not start it early.

VIGELAND:
So you’re really saying that this just forces the conversation. And you’re not necessarily sitting down and saying, OK, you know what? We may get divorce sometimes. So let’s actually . . .

FARRELL:
Absolutely not. Absolutely, my hope is that 45, 50, 60 years from when you got together, this is yellow document that you find in the attic. And you got, oh, hey, that was our pre-nup. I had, no, no. This is not about getting divorced. This is about maintaining the relationship.

VIGELAND:
All right. For those who have already done the deed and got in the old bowl and chain, that being both the husband or the wife.

FARRELL:
Thank you.

VIGELAND:
What is the function then, perhaps of a post-nup? It’s never too late to talk about this stuff, is it?

FARRELL:
It’s never too late to talk about this stuff. Now, the post-nup, I’m a little more skeptical about. It is increasingly popular. There is more discussion about it. My feeling is at that point what we’re really talking about is marriage counseling. What a post-nup essentially is doing is saying, you know what? If this marriage counseling doesn’t work out, here’s how we’re gonna divide the assets and we’re gonna decide it now before we’ve actually decided to get divorce. I’m not a big post-nup fan. I’m a big pre-nup fan. Now, full disclosure. The reason why I like to say pre-nup is a way of getting attention. I got your attention.

VIGELAND:
You certainly did.

FARRELL:
And it’s a way of starting the conversation.

VIGELAND:
All right. The Straight Story from our resident romantic, Chris Farrell. I’m sure it’s excellent advice. I just don’t wanna think about it.

FARRELL:
But maybe in the back of your mind, I see that’s been planted.

TREY KAY: Perhaps. Thanks, Chris.

FARRELL:
Thanks.

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