Dear Moneyist, My husband sprung a prenup on me days before the wedding. Is this normal? Obviously, I went ahead with the marriage. He is a lot wealthier than me, but this was not something we had discussed in the run-up to the marriage. It came as a shock. I put it aside for the big day so as not to spoil it, but there has been a lingering feeling of resentment on my part in the weeks since we married.
Still Reeling You can email The Moneyist with any financial and ethical questions related to coronavirus at email@example.com, and follow Quentin Fottrell on Twitter.Dear Reeling, I don’t blame you for feeling blindsided. I have no doubt that this happens because a prospective spouse with more money than his/her partner suddenly panics at the last minute and asks their lawyer to draw up a prenuptial agreement — and then buries their head in the sand while the document is delivered. That’s not a good way to handle challenging conversations, and can lead to “dry rot” forming in a relationship — unspoken hurt and resentment that slowly eat away at trust and intimacy between two people. Whether it’s normal or not doesn’t matter. It’s not normal for you. It may also be a strategy by some lawyers: spring a prenup at the last minute, acting like it’s the most natural thing in the world with the intention of reducing the time and momentum for negotiation. Marriage is a business contract as much as it is a romantic one. So is a prenup.
“‘Yes, it does happen.’”
— Irene Angelakis, adjunct professor at the Hofstra University School of Law
During the MarketWatch “Mastering Your Money” video town hall event last week, I put your question to Irene Angelakis, a divorce attorney and adjunct professor at the Hofstra University School of Law in Hempstead, N.Y., and her answer — quite frankly — surprised me. Is it normal? “Sometimes,” she said. “Yes, it does happen.” “Always consult with an attorney; do not sign anything without having an attorney review it, especially a prenuptial agreement,” she added. “That is something that will bind you. It’s not something that will be tossed out.” “There is case law where if you didn’t have enough time to read it or there was duress, then you could end up invalidating it, but that’s really hard and very costly,” Angelakis said. “If there’s going to be a prenup, let’s talk about this months in advance where I have time with a clear head to look at it.” You can hear more of the Moneyist’s discussion with Irene Angelakis on this and other issues on “Mastering Your Money” here. By emailing your questions, you agree to having them published anonymously on MarketWatch. By submitting your story to Dow Jones & Company, the publisher of MarketWatch, you understand and agree that we may use your story, or versions of it, in all media and platforms, including via third parties. Check out the Moneyist private Facebook group, where we look for answers to life’s thorniest money issues. Readers write in to me with all sorts of dilemmas. Post your questions, tell me what you want to know more about, or weigh in on the latest Moneyist columns. The Moneyist regrets he cannot reply to questions individually. More from Quentin Fottrell: • ‘I just don’t trust my sister’: How do I gift money to my nieces without their mother having access to it?• We’re getting married and have a baby on the way. My wife has offered to pay off my $10,000 student debt and $7,500 car loan• I have three children. I quitclaimed my house to my most responsible son. Now he has blocked my calls• My brother-in-law died, leaving his house in a mess. His landlord wants me to repaint and replace the carpet. What should we do?