Family lawyers are well-versed in marital law, including writing a strong prenuptial agreement. In fact, prenuptial agreements have grown in popularity, no longer being reserved for celebrities and the wealthy. However, these agreements have been growing in scope, describing more than just what would happen in the case of a divorce. Lifestyle clauses that govern the responsibilities and requirements of both parties during the marriage are becoming a common part of the prenuptial agreement, colloquially referred to as a love contract.
The American Bar Association Journal describes the increased popularity of lifestyle clauses in both prenuptial agreements and cohabitation agreements for couples that are not getting married. According to a celebrity divorce attorney that is well-versed in incorporation of lifestyle clauses, prohibitions on cheating or penalties for adultery that are enforced in the divorce settlement are the most popular clause. These lifestyle clauses may also cover frequency of sex, financial goals, and physical appearance.
Other popular clauses set up ground rules for the couple. There are guidelines regarding how much time they must spend with one another. These types of clauses usually require "date nights" or that the partners spend a minimum amount of time away from work, cell phones, and other forms of distraction to enhance their time together. It is also common to impose a requirement to remain under a certain weight, both for reasons of attraction and for health. However, these love contracts can encompass any number of topics, it is up to the parties to come to a mutual agreement.
While love contracts, like prenups, are no longer limited to celebrities, the clauses contained in celebrity agreements often get the most attention. This may be because of the specificity or perceived outlandishness, or it may be because of the high price tag attached to some. Regardless, celebrities have some of the most unique and tailored requirements in their agreements.
Keith Urban and Nicole Kidman used their prenup to ensure that Urban stays clean. While Urban is entitled to $640,000 for every year they remain married, he will not receive any of that money if he uses illegal drugs. Urban, a former cocaine addict, has the added incentive to remain drug-free.
Priscilla Chan, wife of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, has included a clause requiring Zuckerberg to spend time with her. Acknowledging that her husband could be a workaholic, she has required one night and 100 minutes of quality time per week. The contract can spell out as much or as little detail about the lifestyle requirements as the couple needs or wants.
While cheating clauses and financial bonuses in the case of infidelity are also the most common for celebrities, the prenuptial agreements of celebrities also include provisions dividing things that may not actually be considered assets. An attorney that has represented a number of famous individuals has included clauses to decide who gets the babysitter, the pool boy, pets, and even a taxidermied horse.
Benefits and Drawbacks
Love contracts, like prenuptial agreements, provide a type of safety net. They establish ground rules for the relationship, helping the couple set down a vision for their life together in practical terms before they actually enter into the marriage. The love contract also has the benefit of requiring the couple to think through potential issues, tackling pet peeves, and identifying ways that their partner may be able to work around something that could be highly detrimental to the relationship. On the other hand, these types of agreements are likely considered to be unromantic and made for individuals expecting their marriage to fail.
One major drawback is that lifestyle clauses are not usually enforceable in court, depending on the nature of the clause. However, they may be used in the case of a divorce settlement to look into the couple's mutual understanding of the relationship and its goals. An attorney that is familiar with these types of agreements will also be able to write the enforceable clauses, such as financial penalties and other asset division clauses. For some couples, the prenuptial agreement is not enough of a safety net. Divorce insurance offered by a German-based insurance firm provides coverage where a prenuptial agreement is not enforced. Divorce insurance alone may be insufficient. There are plans to financially help preserve one's lifestyle, which can be purchased in lieu of or in addition to divorce insurance. These income protection plans would be particularly applicable for those that are making cohabitation agreements without marriage and would not be able to use a prenuptial agreement.
Obtaining a Love Contract
A love contract can be included as part of a normal prenuptial agreement, obtained through a family law or contract attorney. It is also possible to memorialize such an agreement as a separate contract, which is especially applicable for couples that do not have plans to get married, but want to create a cohabitation agreement. For couples that are not at all concerned about legal enforcement, it is possible to write an informal agreement, having the candid discussion and setting expectations for the relationship ahead of time.