Can we imagine for a moment what marriage would look like if a prenuptial agreement was one of the pre-conditions to getting married? Well, I imagine marriage would turn into a full time business venture. I had this chat with a colleague who seems to be of the strong opinion that couples should sign a prenuptial before getting married. I strongly opposed this view because on the main fact that it would destroy the essence of marriage. I am a strong in the fact that marriage is a shot in the dark and once we introduce the idea of prenuptial agreements the essence of marriage will be defeated as people would be going into it with the option of backing out at any point in time. In fact, marriage would be like dating where you can walk in or out at any given point in time. My colleague was of the opinion that a prenuptial agreement is like insurance and that as human beings we all take up insurance policies not because we pray for bad things to happen but to kind of help us when they do happen. However, I think prenuptial agreements are mostly signed by people with low self-esteem, who feel they are incapable of being loved for who they are but are rather loved for their achievements or their status in the society. Yeah! It is also meant for rich people who basically see marriage as another business deal or rich people who are insane enough to marry a gold digger. Prenuptial agreement destroy the romance, it makes marriage look like it’s all about the money and not the feeling of wanting to be with each other. It gives marriage an ugly look and worst of all it destroys trust. To my mind’s eye, signing a prenuptial agreement means the marriage will not last for a life time because one person will walk out of it. More so, a prenuptial agreement can be nullified where all assets were not disclosed, where there’s fraud, duress, lack of representation of one of the parties at the time of signing the agreement.
It is against this backdrop that I pondered and wondered why people even go through the bother of signing a prenuptial agreement, and then I realized that most couples that sign a prenuptial agreement may be trying to protect their business assets accumulated before marriage. Further, a prenuptial agreement ensures that financial issues are laid bare on the table as well as it preserves family inheritance; protects children of other marriages; apportions assets to children and other family members in the event of death; and in the event of divorce it extinguishes the fight for finances and assets. Surprisingly, prenuptial agreements also protect properties in the marriage in the event of bankruptcy.
It must be pointed out that initially a prenuptial agreement was entered to protect the woman especially in the United States before the Married Women’s Property Act 1884 became law due to the fact that everything a woman owned or inherited was transferred to her husband upon marriage and in the event of death or divorce she could lose everything. Additionally, in some countries even historically prenuptial agreements have never been legally binding. African countries can be counted amongst the countries that do not accord legal recognition to prenuptial agreements. However, the waters can be tested if couples enter into such an agreement before marriage and in the event of divorce tender it to make it easier for the Judge to decide on the distribution of the properties, maintenance of the woman and the custody of the children. Perhaps, this could lead to faster dispensation of justice as well as reduce the length of divorce trials.
My final word remains this: the prenuptial agreement is dispensable in marriages because it destroys the essence of marriage, because marriage is a contract for which the consideration is ‘love’. It strips the couples of trust and brings distrust in its stead, but looking at real world and the number of divorce that rocks marriages it is best for everybody to know the pros and cons of prenuptial agreements while working hard to preserve the sanctity of marriage which is love, perseverance and mutual respect.