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What I grew up understanding about Marriage is that it is a ‘lifetime contract’, but the contracts that back up relationships and marriages of today are getting longer and longer—and more unusual in context. The latest trend of love contract in marriage still leaves me in shock. It is mainly existing among celebrities and powerful people in the western world, but if we are known to have adopted many lifestyle choices from them in recent years, what guarantees do we have that this won’t seep into our society?
For years, the press has been reporting on alleged lifestyle clauses within the prenuptial agreements of the rich and powerful, and famous — in the love contract, you get to see things like financial penalties if a partner doesn’t maintain a particular weight; restrictions on gambling; promises not to use illegal drugs or abuse alcohol; even specifics on the minimum hours per week a couple must spend together.
While premarital and cohabitation agreements address issues that come into play only when a relationship ends, love contracts are meant to lay the groundwork to keep couples together. And now the concept has caught on with the general public—for those officially married or not.
Contract clauses can range from social media no-nos—such as uploading embarrassing images to Facebook—to more aspirational aspects of a relationship, such as reading the same book together or taking cooking classes at a community college. And as offbeat as they may sound, these contract clauses can be valuable tools for setting marriage goals.
“People say it’s unromantic to live by a contract, but married couples are already doing that,” a New York City-based attorney Anne Carrozzo said.
The downside—and it’s a big one—is making the mistake of thinking lifestyle clauses, even within legal contracts, are enforceable in court. In most cases, the clauses have no legal teeth. In fact, some family law attorneys won’t even handle them.
“You may read about it in the press, but following every celebrity is not the smartest thing to do,” said Los Angeles-based family law attorney Peter Walzer. “Celebrity decisions are what you shouldn’t do.”
Walzer said a prenup or postnup is one of the most powerful documents an individual can enter into, controlling the entire financial realm of life, and he described the addition of lifestyle clauses as “polluting” the contracts.
“I really, really discourage it in a legal document,” Walzer said. “It’s like buying a house and putting into the house agreement that you have to take care of a plant or paint the house yellow. … Work it out with a psychologist or marriage counselor.”
Everyone is at such a loss when it comes to relationships, they are looking for any reason to make them sustainable. The more communication, the better, or there will be more trouble later.
There’s a basic risk of putting anything into writing—it can come back to haunt you. Lifestyle clauses on their own may be unenforceable in court, but it’s still written ammunition for an angry spouse—especially if there is a divorce proceeding.
Love contract may seem like an insurance at first, it is a trap you should not fall into.
Source in part: CNBC