In a film I saw not too long ago, a scene about a prenuptial agreement stuck in my mind (about the only thing that did, since I can't even remember the film's name). The groom, on his way to church to be married, was still haggling over the details of his prenup. The biggest sticking point was how often he could expect to have sex with his new wife in exchange for agreeing to lose 10 pounds.
This must just be satire, I thought. No one would actually write such things into a prenuptial agreement, would they? Well, they would, as it turns out. Health-related clauses that dictate weight requirements, ban smoking, or spell out a plan to get pregnant within a certain time period are unusual, but they are indeed starting to turn up, say matrimonial lawyers. "As people become more health conscious, you find more of this stuff in prenuptial agreements," says Raoul Felder, a prominent matrimonial lawyer in New York City.
And just like in the movies, some couples apparently think a legal document will improve their sex lives. Felder recalls that one couple's agreement stipulated the wife wouldn't have sex with her husband at all unless he lost 50 pounds.
But putting something into a legal agreement doesn't mean it's enforceable, attorneys say. Prenuptial agreements generally spell out how a couple will handle their financial assets if they divorce or one of them dies. But in the case of a clause that forbids someone from smoking, for example, "What's the consequence of not abiding by the agreement?" asks Violet Woodhouse, a certified family law specialist in Newport Beach, Calif., and author of Divorce and Money. "You either live with it or you divorce."
Increasingly, however, a health-related clause of another kind is finding its way into prenuptial agreements, says Felder, and this one can be enforced. "Now people want assurance that their health insurance will continue if they divorce," he says. With healthcare costs continuing to rise, I guess this should come as no surprise. As I wrote recently, people are getting married for health insurance purposes. Why shouldn't it play a role when they call it quits?
What about you? I'd be very interested to hear from anyone who's included or even considered including a health-related clause in a prenuptial agreement.