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What are infidelity clauses in prenuptial agreements?

There are a number of reasons to consider a prenuptial agreement, whether it is protect a business from being dependent on the success of your relationship, or to shield a spouse from your personal or professional debt. In most areas, a prenuptial agreement deals strictly with practical matters, often relieving a marriage of many of the tensions that can tear it apart.

However, it is also possible to include what are known as "lifestyle clauses" in a prenuptial agreement that stipulate certain rewards or penalties for certain behavior. While many lifestyle clauses are frowned upon by the court and are likely to be ignored by a judge, one type of lifestyle clause that has become much more common and often-recognized is an infidelity clause.

Under an infidelity clause, if one partner or the other strays outside of a marriage, they may trigger both a divorce and a stiff monetary penalty. For instance, in many celebrity marriages, if one partner cheats, the other may be automatically entitled to a million dollars off the top before any other settlement is negotiated.

It may seem like an infidelity clause is a strange pressure to put on a marriage. After all, why create a penalty for a thing unless it is likely to happen, and if it is, then why would you get married? For some couples, playing an infidelity clause in a prenuptial agreement is a way of expressing personal values in a state that no longer recognizes infidelity as a factor in distributing assets. In such a state, adultery may grounds for a divorce, but would not be a factor in a settlement in the eyes of the court.

Every couple's desires for their relationship are different, and how they choose to express their values is reflected in a prenuptial agreement. It is important to note that merely including a stipulation in an agreement does not make it legally binding. If you are considering a prenuptial agreement, it is important to consult with an experienced attorney who understands the legal climate of the state and can help you craft the perfect agreement for your relationship in terms that will be enforceable.

Source: Forbes, "Can A Prenup Or A Postnup With An Infidelity Clause Deter A Husband From Cheating?," Jeff Landers, accessed Feb. 24, 2017

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