To those of us who practice in the domestic arena, pending nuptials means two things, Pre-nuptial agreements and divorces. Both can be lucrative business for lawyers. I will not be writing today about the bottom feeding reputations of that class of lawyer who gathers filthy lucre from the misjudgments of others, but of the benefit gained by that segment of our population that was previously barred from wedded bliss ,by the imposition of certain rules , when the blush fades from yesterdays rose.
Missouri does not recognize common-law marriage, straight or otherwise. This creates problems for people who, although barred from the marital bed, non the less enter into long term relationships that turn out not to be forever. When two people accumulate property together, both real and personal, and comingle it for the common good, there needs to be a way to unwind it when it is time to go their separate ways.
Pre-Nuptial Agreements allow couples to plan ahead for the possibility of a parting of the ways. Property owned before the marriage can be kept separate and property acquired during the marriage can be divided by pre-determined formulas and guidelines. This eliminates much of the distasteful mudslinging and back stabbing.
The vast body of divorce law, which has evolved over the years since Moses decreed it allowable in the millennia Before Christ, is now available to help Gay couples who have availed themselves of the newly acquired status. Rules, guides, tables and spreadsheets, income and expense and property statements. Things that did come into play when trying to untangle Gay couples property in the past are now available to assist in this distasteful practice.
Fifty percent of all marriages in this great land end in divorce. I do not know how many Gay people will run to the Courthouse to get hitched, but it is safe to assume that about half of them will end their relationship before they die. Now the Courts can overlay the same order that was given to divorcing men and women to divorcing men and men and women and women. I think it is les confusing to just say divorcing couples, since it is all the same now.
While the tax credits and insurance/ medical benefits that come from the status of being married will now be doled out without regard for sexual preference, as well as inheritance rights and many others, not to forget the respect that comes with legitimacy, ( or more germane, the lack of respect that comes with the lack of legitimacy) it is predictable side effect of the acquisition of the right to marry comes the necessity to unwind some of them. Now the disarray of the past break up is replaced with an orderly, rule oriented divorce. This unwinding of the relationship can be made even easier by a good prenuptial agreement.
Pre-nuptial agreements, essentially an agreement that says “what’s mine is mine, what is yours stays yours and what we acquire together we will divide if the relationship ends.” I would consider this the most important document in the joint safe deposit box. Most young couples starting out have an agenda that includes building a family, (adoption aside) this is not usually a part of the gay equation. Every gay couple can save money on the back end by paying for a solid pre-nupt on the front end.
I will not speak to the long and storied history of marriage in our culture, but to say to those who believe it has always been only between a man and a woman, that they are wrong. Not very long ago it was usually between a man and a young girl. The girl was often sold into the relationship for pecuniary gain or political purpose. The concept of a man and a woman choosing their respective partners of their own free will is fairly new. In the eyes of the law, and various religious institutions, marriage has been an ever evolving entity, whether they admit it or not. Evolution is ongoing and either we go with it or we go the way of the dinosaur.