10 Rough and Tough Ideas for Outlining a Contract of Marriage as a Business Alliance

by | Jan 1, 2015 | Opinion | 0 comments

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Tag: RELATIONSHIPS & MARRIAGE, USA

Engaged? Thinking about proposing? Think you’re gonna get proposed to?

Marriage is, after all the fluff and stuff is gone, a business alliance or partnership. Bottom line; no ifs, ands, or buts about it.

Greco-Roman romanticism aside, most of us have learned by now that somewhere between temporary infatuation, all too often confusing lust for love, and the fact that human beings are temporal and incapable of “agape” love (the kind of love that is unconditional, comes without stipulations, and bends whichever way the wind is blowing on forgiveness, which we almost never get from other human beings), reality bites like a hungry dog chomping on a meaty bone, and it also calls for some cold fact-filled insight before you take that walk, skip, or hop down the aisle, or up the sidewalk, or across the beach or deck.

As a matter of information, romanticism is more like the kinds of expression that says “let us toss everything to the four winds and see what returns to us” (i.e., “I choose you”), and enlightenment [during the Greco-Roman era] was more scientific and objective (more sterile, so to speak) – in direct contrast to romanticism.

There is truly nothing wrong with being a “romantic” at heart and in philosophical substance, but there is the other side of the spectrum that too many Black men and women hardly ever think upon-about being “enlightened” concerning what the future holds.

Those time-proven variables that nobody knows, though they do factor in, says that nothing lasts forever, not even you.

In the age of information, and enlightenment, and without much further ado, here are 10 Rough and Tough Ideas for Outlining a Marriage (Nuptials Day) Contract, vows -whether written or spontaneous- not necessary. Never make a promise you don’t intend to keep, or even a promise that can easily be broken over time; no pre-nup necessary.

All a LEGAL marriage is in the United States is a contractual agreement mandated by law as a couple tax. All “legal” marriages are not god-ordained ones.

A ceremony may consist of [and you can still play “dress up” for this and have pomp attendants and circumstance wedding guests] showing up, signing your negotiated contract in front of a notary, getting it witnessed, and having a minister or judge or justice or whatever other licensed officiate you find sign the required marriage license and file it in the county, as usual. The marriage contract itself need not be filed, but both parties to the marriage should have an original signed in BLUE or RED or PINK or GREEN ink, (or any other ink color besides black or white) so bring two copies to be signed and two envelopes to contain them. Engrave or emboss them if you like.

Thinking in terms of the future is never a bad idea (Janet Damita Jo Jackson knows this), so here goes…

(Note: Consult your own lawyer or lawyers, this is not legal advice. It is strictly opinion coming strictly from a person experienced in marriage and in the way that the legal world works in the event that a marriage ends):


In a nutshell, a contract of any kind consists of the following four (4) ESSENTIAL elements (but you can add anything else to it that you want to and that the other party agrees to):

  1. Offer – Making the promise to marry and remain faithful and exclusive, or to agree to an “open” marriage with outside affairs or cheating allowed as a “no-fault whereas” declaration (with or without stipulations). This one, you have to put on your big-girl or big-boy panties for. ‘Isht” happens, whether we want to admit it or not.
  2. Acceptance – The “specific performance” (which often only applies to real estate or hard real property exchanges) is intertwined in the fact that you both showed up to get married. No one compelled the other, no one forced it on you or the other person. You wouldn’t be there if you didn’t want to be there, so you are in the act of specifically performing the terms of this contract. This is why waiting until the day of the wedding is the best time to accept the offer in writing, so that there is no “remorse” later as you show up for a wedding already tied to a contract that you can’t get out of. The time to get out would be before you sign, not afterward. Part of this acceptance may be very specific about who pays for what already-incurred expenses in the event that the signing finger with the ring on it never makes it to the documents, or in the event of a last-second “change of heart.”
  3. Intention – Mutuality of agreement means that both parties are in the right frame of mind to understand and sign whatever document lies before them at the time. Both are legally old enough, educated enough, and wise enough (whatever that means) to enter into a binding contract, hold to it, and make it stick.
  4. Consideration – Something of value (typically cash, a dowry, or even just a symbolic ring) is exchanged that “seals the deal and dries the wet ink.” The consideration is not a “gift,” it is the exchange of value for like value, as in “I give you myself as your spouse in exchange for this symbolic whatever.” No consideration, no valid enforceable contract.

***

Get it in writing, regardless of your current financial and economic circumstances. You might be circumstantially broke and poor now, but one would hope you both are not planning on staying that way throughout the duration of the marriage.


 

More specifics can be exactly laid out in the contract, for example: (5) a list of inventory and valuables and real (estate) property that each person brings into the marriage, and how it all should be disposed of in event of death or divorce; (6) statute of limitations of the contract which expires in 5-10 years and is renewable only on agreement of both parties. If contract is not renewed by one or both parties to the marriage, the contract ends on its expiration date, and both parties are considered legally free to leave or re-marry. The contract can be revisited and revised as needed at the time before it is renewed; (7) Stipulation that divorce is still an option during the contractual time period and what happens in the event of a divorce that happens before the contract expires; (8) what is to be done with inventory and valuables that are accumulated by the couple after the marriage contract is signed; (9) children or possible children and other dependents, and visitation rights with stipulations about what happens in the event of unforeseen circumstances that are not knowable in advance — such as a civil or criminal act in which an accused party to the marriage contract is found guilty; (10) … and other specifics (like insurance policies, joint bank accounts, et al) that have to do with you or your intended’s personal and professional circumstances and potential circumstances (as you know them at the time) that will end up having a major impact on both of your lives, etc.

Why leave yourself wide open to fate, chance, or circumstances, especially with someone who may possibly become a permanent fixture in the real property that is your life, your temple, the sacred place where only very special people are allowed to be at any given time?

This world comes without guarantees attached or affixed, and no one is ever required to go into a business alliance or a partnership without at least the bare minimum of certainties and uncertainties being addressed first and foremost and above all else.

Love is a big thing, it is a crucial element and it’s all sweet and ‘ooey-gooey’ for the eyes of those who care to look at you and admire it; however, it is most assuredly not the only thing, and definitely not the most critical element of a marriage partnership.

Your future (his, hers, theirs) is always at stake, no matter what.

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