Learn To Love The Prenup

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Learn To Love The Prenup
Signing on this dotted line could safeguard your financial future.

But a prenuptial agreement is a dry, signed, and preferably notarized sheaf of papers prepared by attorneys for a few thousand dollars, a document whose popularity, some lawyers say, has doubled in the last five years. A stack of what-ifs whose creation and discussion, as certified family-law specialist Bob Nachshin will tell you, has made grown men cry as they sit in their attorneys' offices.

And, instead of being a threat to anyone's dream of true love and happily-ever-after, it's really more of a blueprint for the business end of your life together. For an increasing number of women, particularly women with homes, businesses, stock, careers, and kids from previous marriages, the prenup is becoming one of those things you just have to hold your nose and get through.

Done right, and according to the laws of your state, it can actually help you sleep better. And the process may even yield some very revealing—and critical—insights about the person you're planning to marry. 10 Questions To Ask Before Saying I Do

"I see a lot more women," says Nachshin, who cowrote, with Scott Weston, I Do, You Do … But Just Sign Here, and who successfully represented Barry Bonds in the athlete's landmark California Supreme Court battle with his first wife. "It used to be that only men wanted agreements, and women were being forced into them, but with the advent of women in the workforce—and many of them doctors, lawyers, business owners, execs, and so on—a lot of women want to protect themselves." He pauses. "I think you're crazy if you don't have one."

No one will deny that prenup-land can be a weird space, pioneered by weird people—namely, the rich, famous, and eccentric. Take the case of Giants slugger Bonds, who had his first wife, Sun, sign herself out of his future earnings on the way to board a plane for their wedding (a practice that the state of California now rejects, requiring instead seven days between the signing and the nuptials). When they signed the agreement in 1987, Bonds was earning $106,000 a year with the Pittsburgh Pirates. By the time of their messy split in 1994, he was making $8 million.

Then there's Catherine Zeta-Jones and Michael Douglas, who are rumored to have a bad-boy clause, wherein Douglas will pay his wife a specified sum if he's unfaithful. (I hope it's millions.) J. Lo reportedly had the same idea, before her engagement to Ben Affleck imploded, writing in a bad-Ben clause if he stepped out of Bennifer bounds.