Thanks mainly to movies and media coverage, nearly everyone knows what a prenuptial agreement is. These agreements – signed before a couple weds – serve to prevent disputes in the event of a divorce. They typically involve such things as property division, allocation of premarital debts and spousal support. What is much less known, however, is that this type of agreement can be used to dictate “lifestyle” behaviors like religious preference of the couple’s future children and where the couple will live.
Now that hundreds of millions of people around the world are connected through social media networks like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, a new niche prenuptial agreement provision is becoming more common: a “digital” prenup that regulates the content each spouse posts about the relationship.
Some believe the trend is a knee-jerk reaction to the trend of so-called “revenge porn” wherein a former spouse or partner posts intimate photos of the other spouse or partner following a break-up. Social media prenups work similarly to traditional premarital agreements in that these documents are signed before the marriage (if the agreement is signed after the couple has wed, it is known as a “postnuptial agreement”), are legally binding, are enforceable in a court of law and provide penalties should one party deviate from the stated terms. Instead of dictating property issues or alimony, though, these agreements may have provisions that:
- Prevent spouses from using certain language when posting about each other
- Prevent the distribution of private photographs without permission
- Dictate the terms of splitting online accounts, photographs, websites, blogs, etc., should the marriage end
- Prohibit posting videos of one spouse without that spouse’s prior knowledge and permission
- Other relationship-based provisions to suit the couple’s unique personal preferences
Given that social media is so deeply entrenched in our society and our lives are increasingly accessible through digital channels, these prenuptial agreements make sense for many couples. What about you? Would you sign a social media prenup if your future spouse asked you? Regardless of whether it’s right for you or not, the topic is definitely something that requires consideration.
Source: New York Daily News, “Legally binding social media ‘prenups’ aim to quash embarrassing Facebook posts,” Jenna O’Donnell, June 5, 2014.