Prenups Aren’t All Bad. Here’s Why They’re Becoming More Common

Prenups can be a touchy subject, but the stigma is fading, with some experts saying it could be a smart move for anyone getting married.

Prenups, or pre-nuptial agreements, don’t always have the most positive connotation. 

While they are legal agreements entered into by couples before marriage — often to keep finances separate despite being otherwise legally joined  — they can be a touchy subject for couples starting to build a life together.

But that stigma seems to be fading away. A new report from The Harris Poll said that this year, 15% of U.S. adults surveyed signed a prenup, which is up from just 3% in 2010. It also found that 35% of unmarried people say they’re likely to sign a prenup in the future.

In the Americas, prenups go back to 17th century Canada, when French colonist men married women who came to the country with financial assistance from King Louis XIV. These women were so highly sought after that they were able to convince their husbands to sign prenups. This came at a time when men outnumbered women, so women had a leg up. Eventually that gender ratio evened out, and prenups went away.

They got popular again in the U.S. much later. A 1970 Florida case Posner v Posner ruled that prenups should be a standard practice.

One big possible factor in their usage today is the fact that millennials now have more debt than previous generations. One survey found that nearly three quarters of millennials have over $100,000 in debt on average, not including mortgages. 

The most common debt is credit card debt followed by student loans. There’s also medical debt and personal loans. 

Prenups can protect your partner from taking on your debt in the case of death of divorce. In some states, your spouse can be held accountable for all of your debt acquired during the marriage.

Kelly Chang Rickert is a family law attorney in California who specializes in prenups, and she sees debt come up in divorce cases all the time.  

“It’s not unusual for me to have a divorce where one side has a Neiman Marcus card and charged up $70,000, and the other side… they are responsible for half the debt because it was acquired during the marriage,” Chang Rickert said.

But the breakdown of who’s responsible for what differs from state to state. For instance, some states are community property states, meaning unless you sign a prenup, everything acquired during the marriage must be split 50/50. That’s how things work in Arizona, California, Idaho, Louisiana, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Washington and Wisconsin.

In other states, laws differ. There can be different rules around what makes prenups enforceable. For example, in Connecticut there’s a specific window of time between when the prenup is presented and when the marriage happens for it to hold up. So, it’s important to see what a state requires beforehand.

Another reason more people could be getting prenups is because they’re getting married later in life and have more assets to protect coming into the marriage. According to Pew, in 2019 the average age a man first got married was 30, and for women it was 28. That’s three years later for both men and women compared to 2003 and four years later than 1987.

“These days, a lot of people work for themselves,” Chang Rickert said. “If you’re a social media influencer or you’re an artist or you’re a writer, a lot of people make money off their creative efforts. So if they have a business coming into the marriage, a lot of them don’t want to share that in case it doesn’t work out.”

This leads to the question of how finances are split. This determines what a prenup could look like. In the 70s and 80s, it was common practice to put all your money into shared accounts with your spouse. But over the past several years, the number of married couples who keep some of their finances separate has risen.

Experts say if couples have a joint account for things they share, they can opt to keep everything else separate, and in the case of divorce, they’ll only have to worry about dividing the joint account. But it’s important to note that separate accounts won’t stay separate unless a prenup is signed stating that.  

“Even if you don’t have a prenup, you kind of do: It’s called the law,” Chang Rickert said. “So if you don’t have a prenup, you’re just going by what your state law says. California says community property, so your debt is my debt. That’s what the state law says. So if you don’t like that, then you should craft your own.”

Rickert Chang recommends getting a prenup ideally a year before your wedding. She also points out a few pros of prenups. For one, the stereotypical scenario we see in movies where a rich guy asks his fiancé to sign a prenup — it could actually be a good thing.  

“If you were smart about it, and the guy’s like, ‘I want you to sign a prenup saying I don’t want community,’ then what you could do is you can negotiate it,” Chang Rickert said. “You could be like, ‘Fine, I won’t touch your stuff, but in lieu of that, I would like 50,000 a year or 1,000, 100,000 a year,’ and that way you can negotiate, and you can actually get money by agreeing to sign a prenup.”

There’s also certain professions where it’s strongly encouraged to protect the other person. 

“Definitely lawyers or doctors, I think you should always get prenup,” Chang Rickert said. “Not just only because it’s my business — I don’t want you taking half of it, but also it’s a business that I can get sued on. So, I would like to protect you from any lawsuits that I might get.”

As prenups have become more common, more people have dug into this topic on social media platforms like TikTok. Chang Rickert has an account of her own where she educates people on prenups to help break down myths and stigmas, including that they aren’t just for rich people and not just in case of divorce.

Now, there aren’t necessarily more divorces now. CDC data shows that divorces declined between 2000 and 2020. 

However in the case of a divorce, not signing a prenup could really pile on to the cost of divorce, which can already be pretty high, costing between $15,000 to $20,000 on average.

Source: newsy.com

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Inflation Costs For Wedding Guests

The pandemic pushed back many weddings, and now many wedding guests are struggling to attend due to inflation costs.

As weddings are upon us, a record number of ceremonies are happening this year thanks to the pandemic, which has postponed a lot of celebrations until now.

But for wedding guests, attending can carry a hefty price tag, especially with costs rising due to inflation. 

Cameron Robertson was invited to eight weddings this year, not just in various states but in various countries like Spain and Lebanon.

“It’s been pretty rough in terms of the finances of it,” Robertson said. 

She’s gone to three weddings so far, but had to say no to two events. She’s undecided on the other three.  

“It has been a struggle financially. But those that I’ve been able to attend have been wonderful and obviously I’ve had to have those rough conversations. I’m not one to necessarily want to say no to any wedding they’re so fun,” Robertson said.  

The flights, hotels, gifts, cabs, and food can all add up.  

Guests spend an average of $1,000. 

Robertson agreed and said she’s spent about $1,000 on each wedding. 

That’s around what Credit Karma says is the average for guests. 

But their survey finds that 73% of guests say inflation is negatively affecting their ability to join celebrations. Polled guests say they are forced to take on debt or miss events completely.  

“It’s a lot of financial burden for one person to take on. And. You know, I’ll make up for it other ways. But you know I can get you a good registration gift,” Robertson said.  

To make it work, Robertson stayed at friends’ and family’s homes, put some expenses on credit cards, and even got some financial help from her family.  

“I’m not necessarily proud of saying that, but I have had to receive some financial support and to attend these weddings,” she said. 

Joseph Kraemer was invited to four weddings and extended parties. 

“I’ve kind of had to pick and choose with, you know, the extended wedding functions such as bachelor parties,” Kraemer said.   

He decided to forgo one bachelor party resulting in one disappointed friend, but he thought of another option.  

“I would love to celebrate you separately and, you know, maybe do something smaller, kind of closer to both of us. That way I can still be there and celebrate you, even though I’m not able to kind of join in the larger parties,” he said. 

Avshalom Gad, a certified financial planner at Eagle Strategies with New York Life, says if multiple wedding invites are in your future, don’t let your heart overrule your head. 

“You want to make sure that whatever you spend is based on your budget. You’re not overspending just because you really miss your friend and you don’t want to look bad and you have to go because everybody is going,” Gad said.

He warns you don’t want to spend all your savings now, and not just so you can retire some day. Because there will be more weddings ahead. 

“Some of your friends are going to get married twice and three times. What? You’re not going to go? You’re going to go. So you’re going to save money for that, too,” Gad said. 

Source: newsy.com

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A Ban on 19 Singers in Egypt Tests the Old Guard’s Power

CAIRO — The song starts out like standard fare for Egyptian pop music: A secret infatuation between two young neighbors who, unable to marry, sneak flirtatious glances at each other and commit their hearts in a bittersweet dance of longing and waiting.

But then the lyrics take a radical turn.

“If you leave me,” blasts/explodes/shouts the singer, Hassan Shakosh, “I’ll be lost and gone, drinking alcohol and smoking hash.”

The song, “The Neighbors’ Daughter,” has become a giant hit, garnering more than a half- billion views of its video on YouTube alone and catapulting Mr. Shakosh to stardom. But the explicit reference to drugs and booze, culturally prohibited substances in Egypt, has made the song, released in 2019, a lightning rod in a culture war over what is an acceptable face and subject matter for popular music and who gets to decide.

The battle, which pits Egypt’s cultural establishment against a renegade musical genre embraced by millions of young Egyptians, has heated up recently after the organization that licenses musicians barred at least 19 young artists from singing and performing in Egypt.

arrested teenage girls who posted videos of themselves dancing, which is a crime there. And in 2020, Northwestern University in Qatar called off a concert by a Lebanese indie rock band whose lead singer is openly gay.

But online streaming and social media platforms have poked giant holes in that effort, allowing artists to bypass state-sanctioned media, like television and record companies, and reach a generation of new fans hungry for what they see as more authentic and relevant content.

Iran’s draconian restrictions on unacceptable music have produced a flourishing underground rock and hip-hop scene. The question facing Egypt is who now has the power to regulate matters of taste — the 12 men and one woman who run the syndicate, or the millions of fans who have been streaming and downloading mahraganat.

Mahraganat first rose out of the dense, rowdy working-class neighborhoods of Cairo more than a decade ago and is still generally made in low-tech home studios, often with no more equipment than a cheap microphone and pirated software.

DJ Saso, the 27-year-old producer of Mr. Shakosh’s blockbuster hit.

Many lawyers and experts say the syndicate has no legal right to ban artists, insisting that Egypt’s Constitution explicitly protects creative liberty. But these arguments seem academic in the authoritarian state of President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, which has stifled freedom of speech, tightened control on the media and passed laws to help monitor and criminalize immoral behavior on the internet.

The syndicate’s executive members have adamantly defended their move, arguing that a key part of their job is to safeguard the profession against inferior work that they say is made by uncultured impostors who tarnish the image of the country.

YouTube.

He is one of the Arab world’s leading performers. Since he was barred, he has performed in Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Iraq, and “The Neighbors’ Daughter” has become one of the biggest Arabic hits to date.

“It’s not the same old love songs,” said Yasmine el-Assal, a 41-year-old bank executive, after attending one of Mr. Shakosh’s concerts before the ban. “His stage presence, the music, the vibe, it’s fresh and it’s all about having fun.”

Mr. Shakosh would not agree to be interviewed, preferring to keep a low profile, his manager said, rather than to appear to publicly challenge the authorities. The ban has been harder on other artists, many of whom do not have the wherewithal or the international profile to tour abroad.

They have mostly kept quiet, refusing to make statements that they fear could ruffle more feathers.

Despite the squeeze, however, many are confident that their music falls beyond the grip of any single authority or government.

Kareem Gaber, a 23-year-old experimental music producer known by the stage name El Waili, is still burning tracks, sitting in his bedroom with a twin mattress on the floor, bare walls and his instrument, a personal computer with $100 MIDI keyboard.

“Mahraganat taught us that you can do something new,” he said, “and it will be heard.”

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The New Weddings in India’s South: ‘Expect Some Magic’

A small group of friends and family gathered under a yellow canopy by a small pool, but the main audience was really the cameras: This was content for the wedding highlight video.

Dr. Pfizer danced her way to the poolside to a band of live drummers that led the way. She danced more and posed as the Steadicams rushed forward for a special-effect shot, and then stepped back to pan out. There were plenty of close-ups of her hands decorated in henna, which had taken six hours to paint.

When she took her seat under the canopy for friends and family to rub turmeric on her face, she wore aviators and danced in her seat as the D.J. cranked up another hit song from across the pool — this one drawing on London and Big Ben, to praise beauty.

You are like our own Queen Victoria

You are the clock, the Big Ben

When you dance,

The entire London dances with you.

As the guests took their seats in the hall for the evening ceremony, the dance troupe changed costumes repeatedly — a Sufi entrance with the groom, a Punjabi bhangra number that included a cameo by the bride, a mash-up of the latest hits where the dancers displayed their hip-hop moves. Another group, all women, performed a traditional Keralan Muslim dance, oppana, a hip-hop dance in jeans and T-shirts, and a flamenco-inspired routine.

In between, the tall wedding singer, wearing a turtleneck and chic glasses with transparent rims, entertained the crowd. He announced the bride’s first entrance.

The heads turned to the back, where Dr. Pfizer, surrounded by the female troupe of dancers, beamed with excitement in a dazzling ocean-green dress paired with stunning jewelry. Mobile phones came out for pictures. Music blared as the dancers shimmied and snapped their fingers, parting the aisle for the bride.

But before the bride had climbed the stage to take her seat, someone realized that the main camera that films the “wedding highlight” for YouTube and Instagram wasn’t set up yet.

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Long Arm of Russian Law Reaches Obscure Siberian Church

ABODE OF DAWN, Russia — High on a hilltop bathed in the autumnal colors of pine, birch and larch trees, Aleksei Demidov paused for a few minutes of quiet prayer. He was directing his thoughts to his religious teacher, known as Vissarion, hoping he might feel his energy.

As he prayed, a cluster of small bells rang out from a spindly wooden gazebo. They belonged to the Church of the Last Testament, founded in 1991 by Vissarion. Except then his name was Sergei Torop, and he was just a former police officer and an amateur artist.

These days, Mr. Demidov and thousands of other church members consider Vissarion a living god. The Russian state, however, considers him a criminal.

dramatic operation led by federal security services. Russia’s Investigative Committee, the country’s top federal prosecutorial authority, accused them of “creating a religious group whose activities may impose violence on citizens,” allegations they deny.

A year later, the three men are still being held without criminal indictment in a prison in the industrial city of Novosibirsk, 1,000 miles from their church community. No trial has been scheduled.

Since taking power at the turn of the century, President Vladimir V. Putin has gone to great lengths to silence critics and prevent any person or group from gaining too much influence. He has forced out and locked up oligarchs, muted the news media and tried to defang political opposition — like Aleksei A. Navalny.

outlawed in 2017 and declared an “extremist” organization, on par with Islamic State militants.

Though there are accusations of extortion and mistreatment of members of the Church of the Last Testament, scholars and criminal justice experts say the arrest of Mr. Torop underscores the government’s intolerance of anything that veers from the mainstream — even a small, marginal group living in the middle of the forest, led by a former police officer claiming to be God.

“There is an idea that there is a defined spiritual essence of Russian culture, meaning conservative values and so on, that is in danger,” said Alexander Panchenko, the head of the Center for Anthropology of Religion at the European University at St. Petersburg, who has been asked to serve as an expert witness in an administrative procedure that could strip the church of its legal status as a church, an act that he said was based on “false accusations.”

“Somehow the new religious movements are now dangerous as well,” Mr. Panchenko said.

told Russian state-owned media that while there was no requirement to donate money, it was encouraged.

She said that some food items were banned and that seeking medical care was difficult. The church drew notice in 2000 when two children died because the community is so remote that they could not get medical help in time. But Ms. Melnikova also said that conditions had softened since the early days.

The accusations come from a vague Soviet-era law used to punish nonregistered groups like Baptists, evangelicals and Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mr. Lunkin said. The prosecutors’ office did not respond to messages seeking information about the status of the case.

In interviews last month with more than two dozen church members, none said that they had been mistreated or strained financially, and all that they could come and go freely for work or school. They said the church did not impose a financial burden on them. When the authorities searched Mr. Torop’s home, they found only 700 rubles (about $10).

Mr. Torop and his church have not been politically active or spoken out against the government. Instead, followers believe their very independence from normal Russian life is what made their church a target. “We’ve created a self-sustaining society, and our freedom is dangerous for the system,” said Aleksandr A. Komogortsev, 46, a disciple who was a police officer in Moscow for 11 years before moving to one of the biggest villages three years ago.

“We have shown how it is possible to live outside the system,” he said, gushing over a breakfast of salad and potato dumplings about how fulfilling it was to work with his hands.

Tanya Denisova, 68, a follower since 1999, said the church was focused on God’s judgment, not politics. She moved to the village in 2001, after divorcing her husband, who did not want to join the church.

“We came here to get away from politics,” she said.

Like the other faithful, Ms. Denisova eats a vegetarian diet, mostly of food grown in her large garden. Pictures of Vissarion, referred to as “the teacher,” and reproductions of his paintings hang in many rooms of her house.

Each village where followers live, like Ms. Denisova’s Petropavlovka, functions as a “united family,” with the household heads meeting each morning after a brief prayer service to discuss urgent communal work to be done for the day, and with weekly evening sessions where members of the community can solve disputes, request assistance or offer help.

At one recent meeting, members approved two new weddings after ensuring the betrothed couples were ready for marriage.

For many of the believers, their leader’s arrest, combined with the coronavirus pandemic, is a sign that Judgment Day approaches.

Others said they felt his arrest was the fulfillment of a prophecy, comparing their teacher’s plight with that of Jesus more than 2,000 years ago.

Stanislav M. Kazakov, the head of a small private school in the village of Cheremshanka, said the arrest had made the teacher more famous in Russia and abroad, which he hoped would draw more adherents.

Mr. Kazakov said his school, like other community institutions, had been subjected to repeated inspections and fines since 2019, with at least 100 students as young as 8 questioned by the police. He said the arrest and intimidation by the police had made the community stronger.

“They thought we would fall apart without him,” he said. “But in the past year, we have returned to the kind of community that holds each other together.”

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The Wedding Business Is Booming, a Short-Term Jolt to the Economy

Marvin Alexander, a makeup artist in New York City who decided to shift from the fashion industry to bridal during the depths of the pandemic, is also seeing lots of last-minute bookings, including from rescheduled weddings. The events are often more modest affairs, with smaller wedding parties and guest lists, in a nod to virus risks.

“I’m starting to see a few people being more comfortable about 2022, even with the Delta variant strong on our heels,” Mr. Alexander said.

On the other end of the spectrum, Magdalena Mieczkowska, a wedding planner, has seen demand in the Hudson Valley and Berkshires take off for big events in 2022. And clients are willing to spend: Her average was typically $100,000 per event, but now she’s seeing some weekends come in at $200,000 or more.

“People were postponing, and now they have more savings,” she said. Plus, vendors are charging more for catered meals and cutlery rentals. “Everyone is trying to make up for their financial losses from the 2020 season.”

Wedding industry experts said they expected demand to remain robust into 2023 before tapering back to normal, as new bookings vie for resources with delayed weddings like the one Ariana Papier, 31, and Andrew Jenzer, 32, held last weekend in Richmond, Mass., a town in the Berkshires.

The couple had to cancel their original June 6, 2020, date, opting to elope instead, but rescheduled the event to Aug. 7, complete with signature cocktails (a bush berry Paloma and an Earl Grey blackberry Old-Fashioned), a dance floor and s’mores.

“We’re calling it a vow renewal and celebration,” Ms. Papier said just ahead of the ceremony, adding it was the couple’s third attempted venue, thanks to pandemic hiccups.

“Third and best,” she said. “We are so excited.”

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