Are Prenups Pernicious? Ctd

A reader writes:

You will probably get a flood of emails on this issue.  I speak from experience on this.  In my first marriage I had no prenup.  It was a brief marriage of a couple of years between two naive fools with almost no money.  Both my wife and I had a combined income at the time (early ’90s) of about $25k.  But in the divorce judgment (in a “no-fault” divorce state) I got creamed, forced to cough up $500/month in alimony to a working woman with more education that I had, for no discernible reason other than the fact that I was a man.  I could barely pay my rent and eat for a period of time, until she married another guy.

In my current marriage I insisted on a prenup.  People were perplexed because my current wife earns far more money than I do.  Why would I need protection when she has more than I?  They also presumed that prenup’s are for the very wealthy – millionaires who don’t want to lose half the fortunes they earned before getting married.  But I always make a couple of points to the naysayers:

1) Never presume a divorce judge is going to be fair or rational – as was made clearly evident in my divorce.  2) When you enter divorce proceeding without a prenup, you risk all of your future earnings.  That means a percentage (or fixed amount) of your future income could be claimed by someone else for the rest of your life.  This is where the assumption that prenups are for “rich people” falls apart.  If a movie star earning millions per year has to give up half of that to an ex-spouse, he still has millions left over with which to live his life and save for retirement.  But if someone in poverty level income brackets gets shafted and forced to pay out a large percentage of his income to an ex-spouse, it could be the tipping point to starvation or homelessness.

Prenups should not only be encouraged for younger and low-income betrothed; they should be required by law.