By Caitlin Kelly | The New York Times
The only local job available was tapping maple trees, and I couldn’t even get an interview.
I had moved to a small town in New Hampshire after falling in love in Montreal with a medical student in his final year at McGill University. An American, he had committed to a four-year residency in New Hampshire, and I decided to leave Canada and follow him there.
Without a job, I joined him a year later, but I was miserable, missing my previously lively social and professional life as a newspaper reporter, living in Toronto, Montreal and Paris. This was a time before the internet existed, and making new friends felt impossible. My boyfriend worked long hours and was mostly absent or exhausted. His residency salary was very low, so we were on a tight budget, and it was a two-hour drive to the nearest city.
After 18 months of fruitless efforts to settle happily, I asked him to move to New York so I could find a job, and he agreed. My job search took six months, and he got an instant $14,000 raise with his new residency. Thanks to a family inheritance, I had money for a down payment on a suburban co-op apartment.
By the time we began planning our wedding, six years after we met, he was earning six figures as a practicing physician. I knew nothing of New York marriage laws, and by that point was wholly reliant on my fiancé’s income and felt extremely vulnerable. So I consulted a lawyer — at $350 per hour in 1992 — and asked what I might win in case of a divorce.
“I have never personally met anyone who has gotten married only to start counting down the days till a divorce. But the odds aren’t exactly favorable – 40-50% of first marriages end in divorce and the numbers only go up for second and third marriages. Yet, the idea of a premarital agreement, or a “prenup,” has been stigmatized to suggest that a person expects the marriage to fail. That is just not the case. I advise clients to prepare premarital agreements whenever possible because no one knows what the future holds. When two people prepare a premarital agreement, it allows them to amicably decide how property, assets, and debts will be divided in the event of a separation rather than a judge making the decision when feelings may be more hostile.”
Scott Ghormley, Rose Law Group family law attorney