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With This Ring (and This Contract), I Thee Wed


That’s not much comfort to those for whom it wasn’t meant to be. “If it weren’t for the prenup, I’d be married right now with three kids,” says Leslie, a 58-year-old retiree who once owned a lucrative textile company in the garment district. His prenup trouble started eight years ago, when he walked by a midtown coffee shop and noticed a woman sitting by the window. “She was this great California chick,” he remembers. “Tall, blonde, gorgeous. I’m 50. She’s 36. We’ve never been married. I love her and she loves me and we’re gonna jump over the moon together. So I go talk to one of my lawyer friends about the prenup, one of these highfalutin lawyers who handles all the celebrities. He draws the whole thing up.”

Leslie’s prenup proposed that his fiancée would be entitled to one alimony payment in the low six figures after two years of marriage and two times that amount after five years of marriage. “It wasn’t the worst deal in the world. She had nothing. I had the business,” he says. “But when you put the numbers in the prenup, boy, does it feel cold. The emotions are flying around, and here you are before the wedding talking money, material. Love, it’s not a material thing.”

When Leslie handed her a draft of the document—accompanied by a full disclosure of his finances as mandated by law—she freaked. Considering all the money Leslie had in the bank, she felt he was being petty. He disagreed. They haven’t spoken in the past five years. She’s married to another man now, has a kid, and lives in North Carolina. Leslie has his Sutton Place apartment, his rental in Florida, and his home on the beach in the Hamptons, but he still doesn’t have a wife. He’s 58 and running out of time. But he can’t bring himself to tie the knot without an ironclad prenup.

He’d be a fool without one, he says. “The state says she’s entitled to half of everything. Half? Whoa. Let’s say five years from the wedding day, you hate each other. She found someone else. You found them cheating. You want a divorce, and now she gets half? You’re telling me, now I gotta write a check for $10,000 a month and she’s with another guy? I’m not gonna be that schmuck.”


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