Alyssa Rower is a divorce attorney and practices matrimonial law in NYC. She’s fierce, she’s forthcoming and she is teaching us about the legal and financial elements of marriage that we aren’t total know-it-alls about! How refreshing. Alyssa has been featured and written articles for HuffPost, Brides.com, Forbes and The Chicago Tribune - to name a few. We’re stoked to have her on the podcast!
A prenuptial agreement is a document you deal with before you get married. It protects you in the event of one partner’s death, or in the event of divorce. It’s not just for rich people! Alyssa tells us how a regular old business owner or entrepreneur might also consider a pre-nup - and what reasons may be enough to spend the money for one!
This is all state by state - it doesn’t matter what state you were married in, it depends on what state you reside in during the years during your marriage, or leading up to your divorce. This matters! Especially when it comes to inheritances, and - just a couple years ago - because of marriage equality laws differing state to state. So it’s in everyone’s best interest to research the laws of your state before legally binding yourself to another person! A prenuptial agreement is an agreement that crosses state lines. So - it may make proceedings feel ‘safer’ or smarter for both parties.
Alimony, spousal support and child support laws also vary greatly from state to state...if you don’t have a prenup, you have to consider these terms with every major life decision you make together as a couple: having children, owning property, changing jobs, relocating, sickness or leaving the workplace entirely. Also, thinking about your estate and who/how you want to leave it in the event that you die can come into play when drafting documents pre-marriage agreements. This matters specifically for people that get married and they both bring children into the family.
Deal with this stuff early on and get it done well before you are sending out your wedding invitations. It’s far less stressful to get it done early, if you are going to do it. And make sure you are both involved in the creation and formation of the document! This mutual understanding about the finances of your relationship is important whether you get a pre-nup or not. Both partners should have a good understanding of what is going on - in marriage and in divorce.
Divorce is difficult - across the board. But the divorces Alyssa thinks are the saddest are the ones that quietly end and leaves one partner not only devastated, but confused, and taken by surprise. She encourages couples to expect problems and issues, but to not take each other, or their marriage for granted. Also, don’t compare yourself to others if possible - every couple has their own unique something...no one knows what goes on in a marriage except for the two people in it!
Links we referenced
“Think about it now, keep it in your peripheral and then enter marriage with eyes wide open.” - Christy “And don’t ignore things.” - Michelle
“A prenup is for anybody that has their act together and wants a custom-situation if they were to get divorced, rather than the default way that a state dictates the terms of the end of a marriage.” - Alyssa
“Nobody enters a marriage planning or wanting to get divorced. But people change. And finances change. Things happen and people fall out of love. It doesn’t always work out. A pre-nup is good planning. It’s insurance.” - Alyssa
“The lines of communication...now is the time, during planning, to swing them wide open. So they stay open.” - Christy
“The biggest lesson I have learned is that there is no magic formula. People change ALL the time. It’s about recognizing the fragility of love. You need to work at it everyday. Things will go up and down...Every relationship needs care and attention.” - Alyssa
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