Colleen McNamee is the owner of McNamee Mediations, a small business in California that offers divorce mediation services. They also offer other services including those that could potentially prevent divorce. This article is a transcript of a video where Colleen explains how a marriage contract can help couples avoid divorce.
What is a Marriage Contract?
What exactly is a marriage contract, and I’m guessing it’s not something that holds up in a court of law. It’s something that you’ve created probably just for your clients.
Right. Yeah. It’s something unique. A concept that I have developed. And what it does is essentially helps the parties identify what’s caused the breakdown in their marriage. And I usually work with them individually to figure that out. And there’s usually at least one thing on each side, and then we figure out what they would need to fix that for themselves. Then we get back together and we propose that to the other party. As an example, he says, “She spends too much money, and I’m constantly having to work all this overtime to pay the bills, and I’m just sick of having to work this much. I don’t get to spend any time with my family.”
Alright. I know what the opposite end is but go ahead. I could see it coming.
We go to her and we say, “Look, you know, he just feels like you’re spending too much money. This isn’t anything against you, but what can we do to fix this? How can we make him feel better about this?” And so, say we come up with a budget that he’s comfortable with, and she agrees not to go beyond that. And this may not be fulgurous spending. This could be buying clothes for the kids, and fancy bottles of wine to have at dinner, and whatnot. This does not mean she’s out buying Luis Vuitton bags. But that would be an example of something we would do with the couple that has since spiraled out of control and led to them fighting and not spending time together, not having date night. But they don’t even realized that’s where it’s stemming from. And so we kind of get to the root of the problem. We identify that. We do the same thing whatever her issue is. Then we create a contract between the two of them. And it’s their rights and responsibilities towards each other as they’ve defined them during this mediation process with me. And then we sign this contract, and it’s a very formal contract, I notarized the contract. And all of this is done in conjunction with the divorce paperwork or the legal separation paperwork. We’re just not filing the final papers with the court. And only if they violate the terms of this marriage contract or at the end of whatever time period we put on the contract, 3 months, 6 months, one of them comes back and says, “You know we did everything in here and it’s still not working for me. I still want to move forward with the divorce or legal separation. Then I file all the paperwork. So what’s unique is that if the contract does not work, then they don’t come back and have to start the divorce process or the legal separation. It’s already done. But they also have this huge consequence hanging at the end of this marriage contract for violating it. It’s a big deal. If they violate it, they’re going to be divorced or they’re going to be legally separated. And it’s strange how that has a heavier impact on getting them to adhere to the terms. Rarely do the clients, who are candidates of the marriage contract, violate the contract.
Watch the full video by clicking below: