Most people who are going to start a family do not think about entering into a marriage contract. Such a “Western thing” even causes bewilderment for many and is considered more exotic than a vital necessity. And yet…
The essence of the marriage contract
In recent years, in Russia, they began to use the services of lawyers and conclude marriage agreements. The initiators, as a rule, are residents of big cities who marry visitors, as well as businessmen who are used to specifying any risks in advance.
It makes sense to conclude a contract if each of the spouses has something of value (an apartment, car, cottage, jewelry), if the spouses combine their property or enterprises, become (or are) co-owners of the business. In the contract, for example, it can be stipulated that in the event of a divorce, the enterprise owned by the husband is not divided, as this should automatically happen by law, but remains with him. You can also set the percentage in which each of the spouses will contribute to the family budget. Write in detail who pays for what, and even make a clause obliging the husband to regularly allocate a certain amount to his wife “for pins”. By the way, thanks to the contract, many women managed to provide themselves with a constant income…
Why do we need a marriage contract
The Western marriage contract regulates relations in the process of marriage to a greater extent, while its Russian counterpart more often starts to “work” after a divorce. And if in the West it is possible to formalize almost any conditions legally, then our legal system believes that spouses will somehow sort out interpersonal relations themselves, but to resolve property problems (apparently, as the most important ones), state guarantees can be attracted.
…And we have
Our contract is not at all a guarantee that in the event of a divorce, everything will be exactly as it is written there. The terms of the contract can be circumvented if desired. For example, the husband writes down the acquired property on relatives, and legally becomes almost a beggar. And his “white” (legal) salary can be fundamentally different from the “black” (passing taxes), therefore, in the event of a divorce, neither real estate nor “black” income will be taken into account by the court when dividing property. And the millionaire's wife, who prudently entered into a marriage contract with him, will be left with almost nothing.
Provisions relating to non-property issues, we can include in the marriage contract, but they will be more advisory in 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, it 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, check his reaction. For example, talk about a friend who has a contract with her husband, listen to what he has to say about it, or show an article about a contract (even this one) and ask his opinion about a prenuptial agreement.
Most middle-income men react unambiguously negatively 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, that he solves problems, and especially property problems, 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 a contract causes indignation among suitors: “How can you talk about money while walking down the aisle?”
It is interesting that women are not always willing to make a contract either: Russian wives traditionally do not like to “wash dirty linen in public”, that is, to interfere with a third party (in this case, a lawyer) in a relationship with a loved one.
There are two opposing opinions about the extent to which a marriage contract strengthens a marriage. Some categorically object to it, arguing that the contract initially, as it were, sets the spouses up to the fact that divorce is inevitable. Others argue that he acts as a deterrent: if, in his absence, a husband or wife can slam the door at any moment and leave forever, then if there is a contract, he may think three more times, knowing exactly what he (she) suffers in the event of a divorce: if the contract is drawn up correctly, then neither of the spouses will be interested in a divorce.
Karina Krasnova, lawyer of the St. Petersburg Bar Association:
According to the law, the property acquired by the spouses in marriage is their joint property, and in the event of a divorce is divided in half. If the spouses want to change this, then they enter into a marriage contract in relation to all or part of the property. The contract determines the ownership of the property of the spouses in marriage and in the event of its dissolution, and can be concluded both in relation to existing and future property. In addition, the marriage contract can stipulate the rights and obligations for mutual maintenance, prescribe who and how much puts "into the common pot", determine the property that will be transferred to each of them in the event of a divorce, etc.
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 capacity of someone either from spouses, etc.
The rights and obligations stipulated by the prenuptial agreement may be limited in time, or made dependent on certain conditions. The contract can be changed, concluded or terminated at any time of the marriage, but only with the consent of both parties. In addition, you can conclude a marriage contract before marriage, but then it will start to “work” only after you leave the registry office with stamps in your passports. “Civil spouses”, that is, those who lead a joint life, have a common household, but did not marry at the registry office, can conclude a joint activity agreement instead of a marriage contract, which, like a marriage contract, regulates property relations. This makes sense if common-law spouses gradually acquire common property - an apartment, cars, a summer house.
The cost of drawing up a marriage contract is 2 minimum wages, and if it is necessary to evaluate the existing 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 opposite foundations of the state's family policy: familism and feminism. Under familism, the wife's dependence on her husband is considered normal practice, it is assumed that the husband is the head of the family, the breadwinner, the wife is the keeper of the hearth, and so on. Feminism, on the contrary, equalizes husband and wife in rights, proclaims “women’s freedom from kitchen slavery”, encourages a woman to strive to work and make a career, and, unlike familism, considers her needs to be primary, and not the needs of her husband, family and children. The marriage contract is a feminist phenomenon that legally confirms the wife's property freedom from her husband.
In pre-revolutionary Russia, when the bride was supposed to give a dowry, the contract was concluded 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, livestock the bride should bring to the groom's family, and in case of a "shortage", his relatives could make claims or even refuse to marry. 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 of the spouses having separate rights to property, since the woman was very limited in her rights, and her role was reduced to housekeeping and giving birth to children. And such a contract was, of course, an attribute of familism.
In Soviet times, when the equality of men and women 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 share. The idea of such a contract at that time was alien to the very culture of the family, and, in addition, the Soviet family also gravitated towards familism: the headship of the man 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 a woman, both in marriage and after divorce. However, the mechanisms of control and regulation of the institution of the marriage contract do not always work smoothly. We almost do not know our rights and do not know how to defend them, while the marriage contract "works" perfectly in other countries where society, unlike ours, was built on the basis of individualism, and not on family principles. And in the center of attention of a Western man, first of all, his rights, he is able to protect them and stand up for himself. For Russia, individualism was alien for a long time, we have strengthened unity in the family in order to resist external troubles, and this has always been supported by the state.
For the irrational Russian mentality, the idea of a marriage contract is alien, 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 get divorced and share 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. It works seriously only when a woman really has something to lose in the event of a divorce. At the end of the nineties, we althy 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 in the event of a divorce their property rights are not infringed. Business has taught them to be pragmatic. Therefore, it is we althy women who often initiate marriage contracts.
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. Yes, and relationships in marriage will be more thoughtful, less spontaneous. If a marriage is destined to collapse, it will happen regardless of the presence or absence of a marriage contract. I believe that a contract does not hasten or delay the breakdown of a marriage, but it does make the divorce process easier, if it does occur, both legally and psychologically. Yes, and the course of the marriage itself can be slightly adjusted, reminding the forgetful partner of his violations, without bringing the relationship to a scandal. Decent people still fulfill their obligations more often, and the marriage contract only helps this. And the real basis of marriage will still be love.
But at the conclusion of marriage, the calculation must be mandatory. Psychologists distinguish between such concepts as falling in love and love. If falling in love really implies a complete absence of any calculation, then love, already being a strong and mature feeling, implies a serious attitude towards each other, respect for each other's rights. And if one spouse offers to conclude a marriage contract, then the second, loving person, is unlikely to dismiss this proposal.
A person who insists on the need for a marriage contract is usually serious and thorough. Most likely, he already has a negative experience of family life, so he comes to the conclusion that in a new family he needs a marriage contract - in order to protect himself, and his spouse, too, from unnecessary unrest. It is not worth talking about the fact that the conclusion of a marriage contract is based on a lack of confidence in oneself, in a partner, in the seriousness of the relationship. Our life is so complicated that it is often impossible to do without regulatory documents. Especially now, when the initiative in relationships most often comes from women - whether it be marriage or divorce. Such is the socio-psychological peculiarity of our time.
The most famous star contracts
- One of the most lavish marriage contracts was between billionaire Aristotle Onassis and Jacqueline Kennedy, widow of the President of the United States. Under the terms of the agreement, Onassis allocated 3 billion dollars to Jacqueline for personal expenses, and put 1 million dollars into the account for the president's children. In the event of her husband's death, Jacqueline was to receive $200,000 in annuity annually.
- Claudia Schiffer, on the eve of her wedding with Tim Jeffey, knowing about his extravagance, wished to place a clause in the marriage contract according to which her husband would spend only the money that he himself would earn. Tim, who often "borrowed" from Claudia, accused her of excessive commercialism and called off the engagement.
- It is a well-known fact 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 replacing the toilet seat 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 from her husband annually for each year of marriage 1 million dollars (the bride insisted on three, but the lawyers of Douglas, who had already lost after the first divorce 60 million dollars, stood to death). If Michael cheats on his wife, he will pay 5 million. As compensation, Katherine made a clause in the contract that all wedding gifts, the value of which is 12 thousand dollars, will remain with her husband in the event of a divorce.
- In Hollywood, marriage contracts don't always infringe on the rights of men. For example, Barbara Streisand and James Brolin signed an agreement according to which James would receive $1 million plus $32,000 annually after the divorce. If the marriage lasts more than ten years, the "one-time allowance" will increase to $10 million.