Love & Sex Magazine

Contract

By Maggiemcneill @Maggie_McNeill

I am curious whether you or any of your friends has ever signed or formally negotiated any kind of employment contract with the man involved?  My husband and I are considering taking me out of the workplace to keep the house and raise the children, but he’s expressed doubt about my ability to do a good job as a housekeeper because I haven’t in the past while working full-time.  I told him I like the idea of a formal contract, so that we have expectations on both sides absolutely laid out, but he sort of rolled his eyes and said it wouldn’t have “legal weight.”

Willy Wonka contractWhether such a contract would have any legal weight depends a great deal on where you are.  Prenuptial agreements are very enforceable in some jurisdictions, while in others they’re very easy to break; in Louisiana a court once declared them null and void on the grounds that only the legislature can define the conditions of legal marriage (I do not know if this decision was later reversed).  And in New York, unusual and even extreme conditions are relatively common in the prenuptial agreements of the wealthy.  If I were you I would consult a local marriage & family law expert to find out what the legal landscape for such agreements is like where you live.

It’s interesting that you asked me this question, because sex workers’ situation is if anything exactly the opposite; our contracts with our clients are understood rather than spelled out, and spoken rather than written.  Even if a whore made such a contract, it wouldn’t be enforceable anywhere in the US due to criminalization.  Where our work is legal sex workers can usually expect the police and courts to give our agreements a similar level of respect as they would give other informal contracts, and where it is decriminalized we have the same legal recourse for a broken contract as anyone else.  This is but one of the reasons decriminalization is so vital to the rights and safety of sex workers, but I’m sure you’ll agree it’s an important one; the enforcement of contracts is one of the few legitimate functions of government, and denying it to sex workers makes our work far more precarious and dangerous.

(Have a question of your own?  Please consult this page to see if I’ve answered it in a previous column, and if not just click here to ask me via email.)


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