Month: May 2017

International Prenups

Welsh actress, Catherine Zeta-Jones married American actor, Michael Douglas. They reportedly have a prenuptial agreement that states she gets $2.8 million for each year of marriage, and a $5 million bonus if Michael has an affair.

While there are many benefits to prenuptial agreements in American marriages, the benefits of international prenups are multiplied when the spouses are from different countries, or hold foreign assets, or who contemplate living in other countries.

Prenuptial Agreements

A prenuptial agreement, sometimes called an “antenuptial agreement”, and/or “premarital agreement”, are commonly called “prenups.”  A prenup is a legal contract, much like any other legal contract, and it is entered into before a marriage by the couple intending to marry.

The contents of prenuptial agreements can vary widely. However, prenups commonly include clauses that spell out how to divide property accumulated before and after the marriage, and support or alimony in the event of divorce or death.

I’ve written on some of the more extreme clauses people insist be put in the prenups before. For example, prenups can include provisions to cover you in the event your spouse engages in excessive drug use, has extra-marital affairs, becomes an excessive spender, or begins a gambling habit.

International Prenuptial Agreements

A prenuptial agreement for international couples is generally a good idea, but international prenups have their own set of unique problems. For example, a prenup that is valid in Florida, may not be valid in another American state, let alone a different country.

When people live in different countries, hold foreign assets, or are planning to either marry overseas, or live in other countries, they should try to consider the law of all jurisdictions where they contemplate living.

There are many advantages and disadvantages to having an international prenup which states that the law of one country governs your divorce.

Issues with International Prenups

International prenups can involve couples from different countries, or couples from one country who live in different countries, or couples who have assets located overseas.

Since the law of each country can be very different, the choice of law clause in international prenups can take on great importance. Additionally, the language used in prenups can be extremely important for two reasons.

First, legal terms in the United States may have different legal meanings in other countries, or may not be terms recognized under foreign law.

Second, the enforceability of international prenups may just depend on whether it was understood by the signors, and they may not speak the language the agreement was written in sufficiently.

Whether in the United States, or in another county, make the effort to disclose all of the finances, even if financial disclosure may be waived in your country.

Additionally, any prenup should be signed well in advance of the wedding. In an ideal situation, the agreement should be fully signed before the wedding invitations even go out.

The Suggest article on the Zeta-Jones prenup is here.


Divorce Extortion

Producer and director, Stephen Belafonte, and Spice Girl Melanie Brown have a daughter together. Belafonte just gave the LAPD an audiotape of someone trying to extort him for a million dollars while he goes through his divorce.Recorded on March 20, the phone call features a woman who tells Belafonte, ‘I’m gonna take you down’ unless she’s paid $500,000 within 48 hours, a fee that’s later upped to $1m.

The woman in the recording says:

‘I want a million bucks in my account in two days otherwise you’re f***ed, it’s your choice.


‘I swear to God I’m gonna talk so much sh*t about you, you have no idea, it’s your choice. And it’s gonna be really really bad.’

During the call, it is also alleged ‘people’ representing Belafonte’s estranged wife Mel B asked Contreras to take the ‘ugly’ story to the media.


In divorce, it is easy to cross the line from harmless threats to the crime of extortion. The fact remains that in Florida, it is a second-degree felony to threaten to expose another for the commission of any crime or offense for one’s own pecuniary advantage.

File this under how not to act in divorce, a subject that I’ve written about many times before: from not wearing Nazi uniforms into court, to not getting in fights with the judge.

There can be little doubt that if Belafonte’s allegations are true, and that a spouse was recorded threatening to disclose confidential information in exchange for money, Florida’s extortion statute could cover the kind of situation facing him.

Divorce & Extortion

Very often in divorce, it is very easy for a spouse to cross the line between idle threats and criminal extortion. How? There are several examples. One which comes to mind, is taxes. It is typical for spouses to threaten to report the other spouse to the IRS for underpayment of taxes unless money is paid to keep the silence.

Another very common extortion technique – which is especially true these days – is to issue a threat to report a spouse to immigration officials. One spouse will to use the threat of deportation unless money is paid in a settlement. This has become more common these days as the country cracks down on illegal immigration.

Extortion also happens when signing settlement agreements. For example, spouses sometimes threaten that if the other spouse does not sign the settlement agreement, the other spouse will tell the children about infidelity, or something else to ruin what reputation the spouse has.

Belafonte’s Case

Contreras – who has a 12-year-old daughter Giselle with Belafonte – has denied the recording is authentic.

‘This audio is clearly not me. Stephen is falsifying stories because I have told the press the truth,’ Contreras told TMZ.

An LAPD investigative report obtained by echoes TMZ, stating Contreras called Belafonte at 10pm on March 20, which is also the day Mel B filed for divorce.

In the police report filed on Thursday, the officer completing the document wrote: ‘Susp called victim and demanded $1million deposited into her account or she would disclose personal information to media.’

The alleged audio tape is the latest revelation in Mel B and Stephen Belafonte’s messy divorce proceedings, which has played out in the tabloid media since the former Spice Girl filed for divorce on March 20, citing ‘irreconcilable differences.

The Metro article is available here.