Planning a wedding is exciting: there are florists to interview, caterers to book, and photographers to hire. But before you sign that marriage license, consider adding one more important item to your pre-wedding to-do list: a prenuptial agreement, commonly known as a prenup. It’s not the most romantic notion, but a little planning now could possibly save you major headaches later.
But a prenup is not always about protecting one’s financial interests. Here are 10 less common—but potentially still very important—items that it might also behoove you to address in writing before walking down the aisle.
Social media lets you share everything—the good, the bad, and the ugly—with virtual “friends.” But what if one spouse doesn’t want such personal details floating about? The social media prenup outlines the boundaries of what may or may not be posted on social media during a marriage.
The agreement provides further protection in the event of divorce. Cyberstalking, particularly common among the recently estranged or divorced, is an invasion of privacy. A prenup can stop this before it begins.
“Unlike children, pets are considered property and are subject to equitable distribution,” explains New York attorney Linda Loving Mellevold. “A prenuptial agreement lays out in advance who will retain custody of the couple’s beloved pup, kitten, parrot, or other pets.”
Ending the marriage
The prenup can specify what the end of the marriage will be—even before it begins. “Most people think it is obvious,” explains Kelsey Mulholland, an attorney with Ruvolo Law Group in Morristown, New Jersey. “But the end of the marriage could be the filing of the Complaint for Divorce, the execution of a Separation or Final Settlement Agreement, or simply written notice to the other party as to the intention of that party to terminate the marriage.
Per their prenuptial agreement, a divorce would pay Keith Urban $640,000 of Nicole Kidman’s money for every year they were married—but only if he promises never to use drugs again. “In cases where there has been a history of drug or alcohol abuse, the prenuptial agreement may provide for daily, weekly, monthly, or random drug testing,” says Mellevold. “Sanctions for failing the test can include economic ‘fines’ or a mandatory return to counseling or a rehabilitation facility.”
“Some prenuptial agreements specify a certain weight or fitness range within which one or both spouses must remain,” says Mellevold. “There is generally an economic penalty for failure to remain within the specified range.”
Tony Romo reportedly wanted a “fat clause” in his prenup with Jessica Simpson. Romo claimed he would leave the singer if she put on too much weight, and she’d have to pay him $500,000 of her own money for every pound she gained over 135 pounds. Good thing they never married.
You love everything about your intended except those outrageous credit card bills. If you’re marrying someone who carries a lot of debt, protect your financial future with a prenuptial clause. “Make it so that only a certain percentage of your spouse’s debt can be allocated to you, and that previous debt is the sole responsibility of the person who accrued it,” says life coach Chantay Bridges .
Advance healthcare directive
A living will, or personal health directive, is a legal document that specifies what actions will be taken for a person’s health if he or she is no longer able to make decisions because of illness or incapacity. “In a blended family, who has the last say,” asks Bridges, “spouse or children?” This is a question best answered prior to the I-dos.
Dates and vacations
Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan have not disclosed whether or not they have a prenuptial agreement. The couple does admit, however, that they had a “contract” while dating that stated they would have at least one night out together every week. “Not only can the frequency—weekly, monthly, bi-monthly—for an obligatory date night be defined, but the duration as well,” says Mellevold. “Similarly, a certain amount of time each year can be set aside for family or couples vacations.”
A prenup regarding sexual intercourse is especially popular for May/December marriages, according to Mellevold. “The ‘performance’ requirement can range from once nightly to once monthly or anywhere in between,” she says. “Particular sexual preferences can be included as well.”
Sexual history can be just as important as sexual future. Some couples include STD testing as a component of their prenup, according to Shannon Shores from Wellex, operator of SameDaySTDTesting.com .
Whatever is important to you
“Other categories can include how often the couple will see their in-laws, how holidays will be shared or celebrated, or even how often a spouse can watch sporting events during a particular season or weekend,” says Mellevold.
“In all cases, there are consequences for failing to fulfill the requirements set forth in the prenuptial agreement,” she adds. “While the sanctions generally are economic in nature and can be quite costly, some can void the agreement in its entirety. Thus, no matter how bizarre the terms may be, the parties should enter the agreement knowingly and with the understanding that the agreement is binding and enforceable.”