Marriage contract: in what cases is it needed and why?
The essence of the marriage contract
In recent years, Russia has begun to use the services of lawyers and enter into marriage agreements. The initiators, as a rule, are residents of large cities who marry visitors, as well as businessmen who are accustomed to specifying any risks in advance.
It makes sense to conclude a contract if each of the spouses has something valuable (an apartment, a car, a summer residence, jewelry), if the spouses combine their property or enterprises, become (or are) co-owners of the business. The contract may, for example, stipulate that in the event of a divorce, the enterprise belonging to the husband does not divide, as this should automatically happen by law, but remains with him. You can also determine the percentage of each spouse who will contribute to the family budget. To detail in detail who pays for what, and even introduce a clause obliging the husband to regularly allocate to his wife a certain amount of “pins”. By the way, many women thanks to the contract managed to provide themselves with a steady income ...
Why do I need a marriage contract
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The Western marriage contract to a greater extent regulates relations in the process of marriage, while its Russian counterpart more often begins to "work" in a divorce. And if in the West you can legally formalize almost any conditions, then our legal system believes that the spouses will sort things out with interpersonal relations, but to resolve property problems (apparently, as the most important), state guarantees can be used.
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Our contract does not guarantee that in the event of a divorce, everything will be exactly as it is written there. The provisions of the contract can be circumvented if desired. For example, the husband writes the acquired property to relatives, and legally becomes almost a pauper. And his “white” (legal) salary can be fundamentally different from the “black” (passing taxes), therefore, in the event of a divorce, neither the real estate nor the “black” income will be taken into account by the court when dividing the property. And the millionaire’s wife, who prudently concluded a marriage contract with him, will be left with almost nothing.
Provisions regarding non-property issues can be included in our marriage contract, but they will be of a rather advisory nature, and in the event of a divorce, only property rights will be legally protected. In general, you can prescribe a lot, but only for psychological support. However, this helps some families.
Should I enter into a marriage contract or not?
If you think that such a document would not hurt you, before inviting your husband (groom) to go to a notary public, check his reaction. For example, tell about a friend who signed a contract with her husband, listen to what he says, or show an article about the contract (at least this one) and ask his opinion about the marriage contract.
Most middle-income men react unambiguously to the idea of a contract. And the point here is not at all that they feel sorry for something for their beloved women. On the one hand, somewhere in the subconscious of a man, he solves problems, especially property ones, and on the other hand, our men, oddly enough, are sometimes more romantic than women who think not only about their future, but also about the future of their children. Therefore, the idea of the contract among the suitors is indignant: “How can one go about money to go down the aisle?”
It is interesting that women are not always willing to decide on a contract: Russian wives traditionally do not like to "take dirty linen out of their huts," that is, to interfere with a third party (in this case, a lawyer) in a relationship with a loved one.
As to how much a prenuptial agreement strengthens marriage, there are two opposing opinions. Some categorically object to him, arguing that the contract initially sets up the spouses as if divorce is inevitable. Others claim that he acts as a deterrent: if, in his absence, the husband or wife can slam the door at any time and leave forever, then if there is a contract, he will probably think three more times, knowing exactly what losses he / she will suffer in case of divorce : if the contract is drawn up correctly, then none of the spouses will be interested in a divorce.
Karina Krasnova, attorney at the St. Petersburg Bar Association:
According to the law, property acquired by spouses in marriage is their joint property, and in case of divorce is divided in half. If the spouses want to change this, then they enter into a marriage contract for all or part of the property. The contract determines the ownership of the property of the spouses in the marriage and in case of its dissolution, and can be concluded both in relation to existing and in relation to future property. In addition, in a prenuptial agreement it is possible to stipulate the rights and obligations regarding mutual maintenance, register who and how much they put “in a common boiler”, determine the property that will be transferred to each of them in case of a divorce
The Russian marriage contract, unlike the western one, regulates only property issues, and cannot contain clauses relating, for example, to rights and obligations in relation to children between husband and wife, it cannot limit the legal capacity and legal capacity of any spouse
The rights and obligations stipulated by the marriage contract may be limited in time or may be subject to certain conditions. The contract can be changed, concluded or terminated at any time of marriage, but only with the consent of the two parties. In addition, you can conclude a marriage contract before marriage, but then it will start to “work” only after you exit the registry office with stamps in your passports. “Civil spouses”, that is, those who lead a joint life, have a common household, but have not married in the registry office, instead of a marriage contract, you can conclude a joint activity agreement, which, like a marriage contract, regulates property relations. This makes sense if the common-law spouses gradually acquire common property - an apartment, cars, a summer house.
The cost of registration of a marriage contract is 2 minimum wages, and if it is necessary to evaluate the available property, the state fee will be 1.5% of the contract amount, based on the value of the property.
Arina Shakhova, sociologist:
There are two opposing foundations of the state’s family policy: familism and feminism. Under familism, the dependence of the wife on the husband is considered normal practice, it is assumed that the husband is the head of the family, the earner, the wife is the keeper of the hearth, and so on. Feminism, on the contrary, equalizes the husband and wife in rights, proclaims “the freedom of women from kitchen slavery,” encourages the woman to strive to work and pursue a career, and, unlike familism, considers her needs to be primary, and not the needs of her husband, family, and children. A marriage contract is a feminism phenomenon that legally confirms a wife’s property freedom from her husband.
In pre-revolutionary Russia, when the bride was supposed to give a dowry, the contract was between the father of the bride and the father of the groom, or the groom himself, if he was already aged. It prescribed how much money, property, and livestock the bride should bring to the groom's family, and in case of “shortage” his relatives could make claims or refuse to marry at all. Naturally, the conditions for the division of property were not prescribed, since there was no divorce as such. In addition, there could be no question that the spouses had separate rights to property, since the woman was very limited in her rights, and her role was to manage the household and give birth to children. And such a contract was, of course, an attribute of familism.
In Soviet times, when the equality of man and woman was formally proclaimed, the marriage contract as a legal act ceased to exist at all, since there was no private property and there was nothing to divide. The idea of such a contract at that time was alien to the culture of the family itself, and, in addition, the Soviet family also gravitated to surname: traditionally, male dominance in the house was traditional, divorces were not encouraged.
After the fall of the Iron Curtain, the concept of feminism came to Russia, and with it the marriage contract returned, which now defends primarily the rights of women, both in marriage and after divorce. However, the mechanisms of control and regulation of the institution of the marriage contract do not always work in concert. We almost do not know our rights and do not know how to defend them, while the marriage contract works fine in other countries where the society, unlike ours, was built on the basis of individualism, and not on a family basis. And the focus of Western man in the first place is his rights, he is able to protect them and stand up for himself. For Russia, individualism has long been alien to us, we have strengthened family unity in order to withstand external troubles, and this has always been supported by the state.
The idea of a marriage contract is foreign to the irrational Russian mentality, the very existence of which implies that you will not live with your husband all your life and die with him on the same day, but sooner or later you will divorce and share the property. And when happy people go to the registry office, they don’t even think that they will ever get divorced. Therefore, for modern Russians, a marriage contract is often a tribute to pro-Western fashion. Seriously, it only works if the woman really has something to lose in the event of a divorce. In the late nineties, wealthy women appeared in Russia who successfully made a career, having their own business, property, and real estate. When concluding a marriage, they take care that their property rights are not infringed upon in the event of a divorce. Business taught them to be pragmatic. Therefore, the initiators of the conclusion of a marriage contract are often wealthy women.
Andrey Konovalov, psychologist, psychotherapist:
The conclusion of a marriage contract has a serious impact on the relationship in a couple. This does not mean that the couple will never divorce. Just a divorce will be much calmer. And the relationship in marriage will be more thoughtful, less spontaneous. If the marriage is destined to collapse, then this will happen regardless of the presence or absence of a marriage contract. I believe that the contract does not speed up or slow down the destruction of marriage, but it facilitates the divorce process, if it happens, both in legal and psychological terms. And the course of the marriage itself can be slightly adjusted, reminding the forgetful partner of his violations, without bringing the relationship to scandal. Decent people still more often fulfill their obligations, and the marriage contract only helps this. And the true basis of marriage will still be love.
But at the conclusion of marriage, the calculation should be required. Psychologists distinguish between such concepts as love and love. If love really means the complete absence of any calculation, then love, already being a strong and mature feeling, implies a serious relationship to each other, respect for each other's rights. And if one spouse offers to conclude a marriage contract, then the second, a loving person, is unlikely to dismiss this proposal.
A person who insists on the need for a prenuptial agreement is usually serious and thorough. Most likely, he already has a negative experience of family life, so he comes to the conclusion that in the new family he needs a prenuptial agreement - in order to protect himself, and his spouse, too, from unnecessary worries. To say that the basis for concluding a marriage contract is self-doubt, in a partner, in the seriousness of the relationship, is not worth it. Our life is so complicated that often without regulatory documents just can not do. Especially now, when the initiative in relationships most often comes from women - whether it is marriage, or divorce. Such is the socio-psychological feature of our time.
The most famous star contracts
- One of the most generous marriage contracts was concluded between billionaire Aristotle Onassis and Jacqueline Kennedy, the widow of the US president. Under the terms of the agreement, Onassis allocated Jacqueline $ 3 billion for personal expenses, and put $ 1 million in the president’s children. In the event of the death of her husband, Jacqueline should have received 200 thousand dollars annually.
- Claudia Schiffer on the eve of the wedding with Tim Jeffery, knowing about his wastefulness, wished to place in the marriage contract a clause according to which her husband would spend only the money that he would earn. Tim, who often “borrowed” from Claudia, accused her of excessive commercialism and terminated the engagement.
- The fact is known that in the marriage contract of Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman the most insignificant, it would seem, trifles of married life were stipulated. In particular, Tom was charged with the obligation to return the toilet seat to its place after using the toilet.
- Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones signed a contract according to which, in the event of a divorce, Catherine will receive $ 1 million from her husband every year for a married year (the bride insisted on three, but Douglas’s lawyers, who had already lost $ 60 million after the first divorce stood to the death). If Michael cheats on his wife, he will pay 5 million. As compensation, Katherine introduced a clause in the contract stating that all wedding gifts worth $ 12 thousand will remain with her husband in case of a divorce.
- In Hollywood, a marriage contract does not always infringe on the rights of men. For example, Barbara Streisand and James Brolin signed an agreement according to which James after a divorce will receive $ 1 million plus $ 32 thousand annually. If the marriage lasts more than ten years, then the “one-time allowance” will increase to $ 10 million.