Health Insurance, Car Insurance, Life Insurance… and Divorce Insurance?

October 20, 2009 | NeW Staff

At our last meeting, NeW at ASU had an in-depth discussion of marriage and divorce, where we briefly touched on prenuptial agreements.  A prenuptial agreement, or pre-nup, is an official arrangement made before marriage to determine how assets are to be divided should there be a divorce.

Harvard University Gazette published an article recommending that we as a society should work to remove the stigma associated with pre-nups.  Beth Potier, the article’s author, says,

“A good prenuptial agreement can even exert a positive force on a healthy marriage.  Yet only five to 10 percent of marrying Americans get prenuptial agreements.” 

Only?! That got me thinking; would I be wrong to be offended if my husband-to-be asked me for a pre-nup? So, like any blogette, I took to the web to see what advice was out there. had some user insight to the question, “I want to ask my fiancé to sign a pre-nup, how can I bring it up without offending her?”  The chosen answer is as follows:

“Very delicately.  I am personally not the least bit offended by pre-nups having been through a divorce already.  Let her know that you are not betting a divorce is in your future, but that you want to make sure her interests are protected as well as yours.  Let her know that it isn’t one sided and that you have as much concern for her as you do yourself.  There really is no good way to bring this up and there is always the chance that no matter what you say and how sweetly you say it that she will be offended.”

In her article, Potier offers further advice.  She recommends to put a spin on the conversation and call a pre-nup “divorce insurance,” a way to protect the interest of both parties in the case of a catastrophe (divorce). Now, I understand that I am putting my life at risk each time I get in a car or plane, but do I really need an insurance policy against a marriage catastrophe?  I thought that was called “common sense”.

Potier’s article also brings up a study performed by

Heather Mahar, a fellow at the John M. Olin Center for Law, Economics, and Business at Harvard Law School.  Mahar found this:

“People are falsely optimistic about the success of their marriages, and they fear that requesting a prenuptial agreement would signal uncertainty about a marriage.”

Apparently, since the national average divorce rate is 50%, I am delusional and “falsely optimistic” to believe my marriage has anything but a 50% chance of success.

The rising divorce rate is treated as a threat independent of our choices and culture.  That is like comparing it to the rising likelihood of contracting swine flu; one’s best vaccine against the increasing risk of divorce is a pre-nup.

Mahar concludes in her study that prenuptial agreements should be mandatory along with premarital counseling.  This is the best way to both protect oneself from the astonishing divorce rate, and the most effective means to eliminate the stigmatism surrounding prenuptials.

Is this not grooming a society in which “Til death do us part” holds no merit?  Kate Jordan, the Secretary of NeW at ASU said regarding prenuptial agreements,

“It is no longer about two people becoming one, it is two individuals co-existing.”

I couldn’t agree more.

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