If marriage is a contract, then your vows are the terms. However, “to have and to hold” and “until sickness or death” aren’t the most specific guidelines. Ever wish you could include some actual specific terms? Like how are chores divided in the household? While discussing and deciding these types of issues isn’t exactly romantic per se, doing so can set your marriage up for success. In the prenup world, these terms are called “lifestyle clauses”. Don’t let the name fool you, they aren’t just for glossy influencers (though they are popular with celebs!). Lifestyle clauses allow you to use your prenup to come to agreements on non-financial matters within your marriage.
Prenups and lifestyle clauses
In general, prenups are financial in nature. They deal mostly with your property, assets, and liabilities both during and after marriage. However, you can also include other non-financial terms in your prenup. The most popular of the lifestyle clauses is definitely the infidelity clause which, as the name suggests, targets and deters cheating in a marriage. Lifestyle clauses are also used for many other reasons as well. For example, you and your fiancé can come to agreements about household chores, visitation with in-laws, and vacations.
Now before we sing the praises of the lifestyle clause, you should know the big issues with them. For starters, the enforceability of these provisions can be questionable. While agreeing to split chores may sound nice, some parties take lifestyle clauses too far – for example, terms requiring a spouse to maintain a certain weight or terms relating to sexual matters. A court is likely to consider these types of clauses unconscionable and refuse to enforce them.
Aside from unconscionable clauses, some states have also taken the stance that non-financial clauses (i.e. lifestyle clauses) are not enforceable. The Uniform Prenuptial Agreement Act (UPAA) which creates uniform prenup laws to be adopted by the states, is relatively neutral on the issue (check out more about the UPAA here!). While the UPAA does discuss lifestyle clauses, it makes no strong suggestions as to their enforceability. The issue is left totally up to the states to decide this issue and even more granularly, up to the individual judges assigned to a divorce case. This is something you should keep in mind if you plan on including lifestyle clauses in your prenup. Be sure to check out your state’s prenup laws to see how lifestyle clauses are treated where you live.
Here are a few other things to keep in mind. Let’s look at infidelity clauses as an example. If a couple who has absolutely no history of cheating in their relationship includes an infidelity clause in their prenup, a judge may not enforce it. However, if infidelity has been an issue in a relationship, there will be more of a basis for the inclusion of an infidelity clause and a judge will be more likely to enforce it. For example, if Khloe Kardashian and Tristan Thompson ever married, an infidelity clause would make a LOT of sense!
Now, let’s take a look at some common examples of lifestyle clauses!
Did you know that infidelity contributes to 20-40% of divorces? No wonder infidelity clauses are so popular! Infidelity clauses allow you to have important discussions and set clear boundaries when it comes to cheating. What counts as cheating can differ. For example, is DM-ing someone cheating? Well, your prenup can answer that question.
You can also set penalties for cheating in your prenup. For example, if your spouse cheats (as defined in your prenup) they could be on the hook for thousands of dollars. Of course, the penalty should be reasonable. If your spouse has $15,000 in the bank, it’s probably not reasonable to set the penalty at $50 million.
As mentioned above, celebs are big fans of infidelity clauses. For example, Jessica Biel and Justin Timberlake reportedly have a $500,000 infidelity clause in their prenup. Of course, as celebs who are bringing in millions every year, a $500,000 penalty is likely reasonable – but still enough to sting! Don’t slip up Justin!
Social media clauses
In the age of social media, it’s no surprise this tech has affected marriage. Social media provisions allow you to set parameters on social media use during marriage. These provisions can cover joint accounts, pet accounts, privacy concerns, and permission required before posting about the other spouse or children.
Not only can social media have an impact on marriage, but it can also impact divorces. Divorce is stressful and publicly detailing private information during that time can really add fuel to the fire. Social media provisions can also cover posting and social media use during divorce to try to keep things as amicable as possible. These clauses can also deter posting negatively about the other spouse.
Another common example of lifestyle clauses pertains to couples who have struggled with addiction issues. Addiction can have dire consequences personally and for relationships. Including provisions relating to addiction can open up lines of communication, set expectations, and include some deterrence at the same time. For example, if your partner has a history of gambling addiction, you can set penalties if lines are crossed. Additionally, you can agree to other arrangements such as spending limits. Nicole Kidman and Keith Urban famously have an addiction clause in their prenup which would cost Urban big time if he slips up. Luckily, they are still going strong!
Remember, the enforceability of lifestyle clauses is questionable. There are a lot of factors at play including whether you and your partner have any history related to the topic of the clause (i.e. if you have an infidelity clause, do you have a history of infidelity in your relationship?). Courts may invalidate any clause (or entire prenup) that it determines to be unconscionable. Additionally, states vary wildly on the issue of lifestyle clauses. So, check out your state’s prenup laws before you sign on the dotted line. Finally, tread lightly with these types of clauses. While they can be hugely beneficial to couples, they can easily go too far.
HelloPrenup allows you and your fiancé to easily negotiate and draft your prenup without ever leaving your couch. Even better, the platform allows you to create a fully customizable prenup that fits you and your needs – including lifestyle clauses. Questions? Drop us a line at [email protected], or get started on your prenup today!
Nicole Sheehey is the Head of Legal Content at HelloPrenup, and an Illinois licensed attorney. She has a wealth of knowledge and experience when it comes to prenuptial agreements. Nicole has Juris Doctor from John Marshall Law School. She has a deep understanding of the legal and financial implications of prenuptial agreements, and enjoys writing and collaborating with other attorneys on the nuances of the law. Nicole is passionate about helping couples locate the information they need when it comes to prenuptial agreements. You can reach Nicole here: [email protected]