Thursday, July 19, 2007
"A FRIEND from business school, just engaged, boasted recently not about the virtues of his wife-to-be but about the Byzantine process he and she had gone through in constructing what he considered the finest of prenuptial agreements, as if there were some sort of poetry in the laborious detail involved in dividing assets and wealth. Months earlier, another friend, who had separated from her husband, told me she’d decided to go back with him, but only after the two of them had constructed a “post-nup” that left no doubt as to how their finances would be divided should they break up again.
I suppose both kinds of agreements are understandable in an era when so many marriages fail, but it seems sadly clear to me that both couples, for all their meticulous planning, had overlooked and ignored the most important point of all. Dividing up money and assets after a marriage falls apart can be a mess, but it’s often nothing compared with the agony and emotional torment of a custody battle — dividing up the children. Money is, after all, only money — you can make it back, you can do with less of it if you need to, you can even file for bankruptcy. But children are not commodities that can be replaced.
Thus, a proposal, based on observation and my own recent experience of divorce: Engaged couples should enter into a new kind of arrangement, one that has nothing to do with houses or cars or the Warhol on the wall but focuses on any children born of the marriage. If two people can contemplate, before they ever marry, the possibility of what Walter Winchell called “splitsville” and agree in advance how they would divide assets, they ought to also be able to make sane arrangements for dividing time with their children."
By James Andrew Miller, N.Y.Times OP-ED Contributor Link to Article (last visted 7-18-07 NVS)