Prenuptial agreements prevent much pain

Ever wonder if Paul McCartney wishes he had negotiated a prenuptial agreement before he walked down the aisle with his soon-to-be ex-wife Heather Mills?

I think we all have a good idea what the ex-Beatle would say: Yeah,  yeah, yeah.

Sir Paul, one of the world's wealthiest entertainers, will likely part with the equivalent of $235 million after only a few years of marriage.

The way Judith Charny sees it, McCartney was the ideal candidate for a prenup. He had money in the bank, his own business and children from a previous marriage.

"If you're in a second or subsequent marriage, you want to protect  your kids and you want to protect your assets," she says.

The acrimonious, high-stakes split has put the spotlight on prenups. Even business mogul Donald Trump weighed in, saying McCartney should have known better. (The Donald, who has had prenups for all three of his marriages, shed an estimated $30 million in payments along with his first two wives.) When Charny got married -- 25 years ago in June -- she didn't know what a prenup was.

Today she's a partner at Charny Charny & Karpousis in Mount Laurel, where she helps prospective brides and grooms to negotiate agreements as to how their assets will be divided should the marriage end.

It's a process that should begin long before the wedding invitations  are mailed.

First, working out an equitable agreement takes time.

Second, and most important, a rushed prenup might not stand up in court because one spouse was under pressure. (Ask director Stephen Spielberg. He was ordered to pay ex-wife Amy Irving $100 million when a judge ruled that their prenup, scrawled on a cocktail napkin, was invalid because Irving didn't have legal representation.) "A prenup isn't cumbersome or expensive to set up," Charny says. "But it does take time because everything must be carefully evaluated."

Full disclosure of all assets is essential. If one spouse tries to hide money -- or debts -- from the other, it could negate the deal.

People who are contemplating whether they need a prenup should  evaluate both their financial assets and family obligations.

"If all you have are a couple of 401(k) accounts, you don't need a prenup because those are premarital assets," Charny says. "If you have your own business or property you want to go to your kids, you really should have a serious talk about it."

So why didn't McCartney insist on a prenup? Mills says she offered to sign one but her beau declined on the grounds they were madly in love.

That's the primary reason prospective spouses give in opting  not to go for a prenup, Charny says.

"People think a prenup takes the romance out," she says. "The  truth is it takes the pressure off."

From the Courier Post