Prenuptial Agreements: Perception is Everything

In the US (and the Western world generally), it is stereotypical to suspect that a prenuptial agreement benefits a wealthier and/or better earning party, more likely the future husband, at the expense of the less advantaged spouse.

After all, why else would they bother with a prenup? Right?

Well, there are actually a number of reasons, which have been explored at length in many other posts on this blog.

Attorneys are reminded daily that every case is unique and one size does not fit all when it comes to agreements and creative solutions to family law problems.

But other legal systems, religions and cultures apparently have a completely different take and frame of reference on the antenuptial agreement.

For example, in Iran today, prenuptial agreements reportedly require husbands who divorce their wives to pay them exorbitant amounts of money. Amounts that could easily take them fifty years to satisfy their obligations. Impossible burdens that send many men to jail.

That’s an extreme but nonetheless eye-opening illustration that, within limits, parties are free to devise outside the box customized outcomes that work for their particular family.

They aren’t limited to what some other family – or even most other families – thought would work for their families.

Learn more about how diverse prenups (or other agreements) can be in this AFP video: Iran pre-nups land thousands of men in jail.

No-Fault Divorce Retrenchment: Trend or Fluke?

It seems like only yesterday that New York became the last state in the USA to allow no-fault divorce. But it was actually 2010.

One of the more surprising recent events in the always-evolving universe of divorce and child custody law is unfolding right now in the state of Texas.

After decades of no-fault divorce, the Texas legislature is considering restricting – not abolishing though – the availability of no-fault divorce.

The bill has been debated and refined over several months. The original bill was more expansive.

As currently constituted, the proposed legislation restricting divorce to fault-based grounds would come into play only in marriages where there are minor children and only if one of the spouses opposes the divorce. So, if there are no children of the marriage or if both spouses agree to getting a divorce, proof of fault would not be required.

Interestingly, to all appearances, the proposal has gained considerable traction in the state. And adoption into law is not unlikely in due course.

The reasons behind the bill are the same policies that kept no-fault divorce (and before that, divorce of any stripe) at bay for so long in so many places: a desire to protect children and strengthen the structure of the family unit.

If adopted, some divorces in Texas will almost certainly take longer and cost more. And some simply won’t happen. Good, bad or indifferent.

The larger question for those of us who follow such things is, of course:

What – if anything – does this proposed legislation in Texas possibly portend for Florida and other states in the US?

Anyone who has been contemplating divorce, strictly on the back burner, may want to follow developments in Texas as well…

Read more in

  1. this Texas Lawyer article: No-Fault Bill Could Make Divorce More Expensive, Increase Conflict
  2. this [Houston] Eyewitness News ABC TV 13 article: TEXAS BILLS PROPOSED TO MAKE DIVORCE MORE DIFFICULT and
  3. this [Austin] kxan-TV NBC article: Texas bill making divorce harder gets early movement .

New York Boy Ruled to Have Three Legal Parents

Husband and Wife had no children.

Husband and Wife meet Girlfriend, who lives in an apartment in their house.

Husband and Wife begin a “threesome” with Girlfriend.

Since Wife was not able to get pregnant, Girlfriend becomes pregnant by Husband.

This happens according to plan and agreement of the three to raise Boy together after his birth.

Wife and Girlfriend both attend all obstetrical visits and alternate overnight feedings and care of Boy after his birth.

In time, Husband and Wife drift apart and … Wife and Girlfriend become a couple. And move out of Husband and Wife’s marital residence, which they had all been living in.

Again, in time, Husband sues Girlfriend to establish his paternity rights.

Whereupon Wife sues Husband for divorce.

In the meantime, Husband and Girlfriend settle their case by agreeing upon joint custody of Boy.

Then, for good measure, Wife sues Girlfriend and Husband to establish herparental rights to Boy.

Now, up until this point, the law has only recognized two legal parents per child.

But this is a pretty unique case.

And based on the unique facts of the case, including the parties’ agreement, the New York Family Court finds that all three, Husband, Wife and Girlfriend have parental rights over Boy.

Also key is Wife’s established maternal relationship with Boy.

Timesharing (if parties don’t agree otherwise) is divvied up as follows:

  • Wife has Wednesday overnights, one week of vacation during the school year and two weeks over the summer
  • Husband has weekends and
  • Girlfriend has the rest.

Read more in

  1. this New York Post article: Historic ruling grants ‘tri-custody’ to trio who had threesome and
  2. this New York Magazine’s The Cut article: Ex-Polyamorous Trio Granted ‘Tri-Custody’ of Their Child by a New York Judge

Uh, Yes, Committing Rape May Be a Viable Path to Paternity Rights and Lawful Fatherhood of a Child

Man rapes Woman.

Woman gets pregnant.

Man is tried for rape.

Man is convicted of rape.

Woman’s Child is born.

Man seeks to establish his parental rights and access to Child.

And in many states in the USA, Man just may succeed.

A Wyoming resident expresses shock that Wyoming lands among these states.

And that legislation proposed to remedy this situation garnered no media attention or public interest.

As a result, the bill simply faded away and died a quiet death.

Leaving Wyoming among the seven states that have no laws to protect women or children from biological fathers who are alleged to be rapists.

Twenty-two states may allow for termination of parental rights where the biological father has been convicted of the crime of rape.

Twenty-one states, including Florida, may allow for termination of parental rights even without a conviction of the crime of rape.

Here in Florida, there must be “clear and convincing evidence” of the rape. A more lenient standard than is required for a criminal conviction, but still pretty rigorous.

Read more in