Hardly anybody comes into a potential relationship totally unencumbered. Just as I feel it is a requirement to always tell the truth during the dating process, it also carries forward to the commitment stage. Luring someone into marriage without telling the “whole truth and nothing but the truth,” is a recipe for disaster. When people tie the knot, or agree to make a major financial and personal commitment in lieu of marriage, I feel it is “Fraud in the inducement” not to honestly tell your partner EVERYTHING about yourself and any potential problems that may arise in the future.
Our helpful friend Merriam Webster tells us that encumber also means; weighted down, burdened, hamper the function of activity, impediment to what may be expected, hinder and finally, be a claim against property or oneself.
Say your heart is in the right place and you agree to exchange everything that someday just may be a problem you both will have to deal with including; children, possibly grandchildren, ex-spouses (any alimony or other contractual arrangements), ex’s children and their families and debts, lawsuits, business problems, crazies, brothers, sisters, friends, health problems, pets and prior contracts, just to name a few. If you are honest, and your heart is in the right place, you probably will reveal all the total cast of former characters, and the potential future risks. But I can forsee two conceivable problems; you inadvertently forgot something from the past, or problems you thought were dead and buried and never could reappear, viola, at the most inappropriate time, they suddenly jump back up and bite you in the tush, rendering you red-faced and riddled with guilt…… They got over the problems, and so they were Wed.
How about those wished for fantasies that you dreamed about, but put off to a later date, and want to implement NOW, much to the surprise and chagrin of your partner?What if one of the partners “decided” they wanted to have or adopt another child? Do you think Brad Pitt really counted on adopting a group of future U.N. members and have matching children of his own?
Well now that we’ve covered some of the potential problems, let’s look into some anticipatory solutions:
#1 Don’t jump into finalizing the relationship with a ring, contract, bringing the lawyers and the Government into your affairs. Take your time, and try to learn as much of their story as possible. Try to meet and spend quality time with their entire cast of characters. Ask lots of question. Odds are someone will hate someone else in the group enough, and you’ll hear the whole chilling story in gory detail.
#2 Ask your intended if there are surprises. After a reasonable period of time has elapsed, ask it in different ways. It’s worth annoying them a little to discover a potential deal breaker early on.
#3 If you still have a smidgeon of doubt, satisfy you nagging hesitancy by doing some private investigation yourself. There are many Internet services that offer written, detailed, revealing reports on the person in question. Still not sure? Then hire a private detective agency who can determine who they really are, who they claim they used to be, and who they sneak off to visit secretly.
#4 Even if it all checks out to your satisfaction, and although there may not be a whole lot in assets, still insist on a pre-nuptial agreement that will protect you from anything you are not aware of, and potentially responsible for.
#5 Build trust slowly. Try to keep your own stuff, so if and when it’s time to move on, you will be relatively whole, if you choose to start the whole process all over again.
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