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Can prenup lifestyle clauses prevent divorce in Massachusetts?

Traditionally, prenuptial agreements have focused mainly on financial assets. However, prenups that include lifestyle clauses are becoming more common. These clauses tend to aim toward controlling how each person must behave in the marriage. Some family law practitioners report couples incorporating language into agreements that cover penalties for infidelity or restrictions on weight gain. Massachusetts couples may consider adding specific stipulations to a prenup to avoid deal-breaking behaviors that they feel could eventually lead to a divorce.

More couples appear to be asking about including lifestyle clauses in their prenuptial agreements. In some instances they might delineate household responsibilities. Other lifestyle clauses may address limiting TV viewing time or curbing workaholic behaviors. These clauses may be difficult to legally enforce, but some legal experts proffer that they may serve to clearly outline conditions of possible divorce if they are violated.

Feelings are mixed about the idea of lifestyle clauses. Some believe that they can be useful, perhaps especially so for interfaith couples seeking to be sure they are in full agreement on how children will be raised. Some suggest that financial penalties for cheating can serve to keep a spouse in line. Others believe that including such terms in a prenuptial agreement is encouraging divorce because they do not foster mutual respect and do not seem to be rooted in love.

Ultimately, it is up to each couple to decide if lifestyle clauses are right for them. Drafting a prenuptial agreement can be a challenging process, with or without lifestyle clauses. Massachusetts couples would likely benefit from seeking an objective third party who can explain their options, help them make decisions and walk them through all the steps.

Source: Staten Island Advance, "Staten Island experts say prenuptial agreements address more than finances," Elise G. McIntosh, Dec. 4, 2012

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