Category: Agreements

Marital Settlement Agreements and Vital Organs

Negotiating for your vital organs is not a part of any martial settlement agreement. However, for one Israeli woman, donating her kidney to save the life of her children’s father, her ex-husband, was a choice she made above and beyond her contractual responsibilities.

Marital Settlement Agreement Kidney

Eilat of Love

Although the ex-wife, Adel, has been divorced for nearly ten years, her divorce and the terms of her marital settlement agreement, did not stop her from donating a kidney to her former husband when she found out his health condition had worsened.

The 41-year-old Rosh Pina resident said in an interview with fashion magazine, Laisha, that she and her spouse have been divorced for nine years, but she did not hesitate to answer the call for help – not least because of the children, of whom the two share custody.

“When I woke up after the surgery, there was some manageable pain. A week later I still feel it, yet anxious to go back to being the Mitzpe Shalom resort manager in the Golan Heights.”

She was aware of her ex-husband’s kidney problems when they met. She states she was 24 at the time and he was 29. He was an accountant and had already been donated one kidney from his mother. He told me right away, but I didn’t care. When I was pregnant with our second child, his father donated another kidney. Seven years later we got divorced. The second kidney held up for 11 years, up until six months ago.

After their divorce their relationship was complicated. But in the last few years things improved:

 We’re both involved with other people now. His girlfriend is wonderful and so is my boyfriend. His name is Eitan, and I told him when we met that if there was a time my ex would need my kidney, he’ll have it. Eitan accepted it right away.

Her ex-husband tested positive for COVID eight months ago and required dialysis and a new kidney. The woman told her ex-mother-in-law, that it was her turn to step up for him. It was very emotional.

Without informing him, she began moving things along. When it was clear she was a match, they informed the kids and then her ex-husband. “He thanked me, but was also concerned about who will attend to the kids while we’re both in surgery.”

Florida Marital Settlement Agreement

I have written about people donating vital organs to their ex spouses before. Erica Arsenault, of Massachusetts, volunteered to donate a kidney to her former mother-in-law years after her divorce. But donations of vital organs are not terms you see in a marital settlement agreement. Donations go beyond the requirements of an agreement.

Most family law cases are resolved by agreement, not by trial. A Marital Settlement Agreement is the method to resolving all of the issues, and is the final product of the negotiations.

A marital settlement agreement puts in writing all the aspects of the divorcing parties’ settlement. Topics covered in the Marital Settlement Agreement include the parenting plan and timesharing schedule, the division of the parties’ assets and liabilities (called “equitable distribution”), alimony, child support, payment of attorney’s fees and costs, and any other items to which the parties have agreed.

A marital settlement agreement entered into by the parties and ratified by a final judgment is a contract, subject to the laws of contract. The enforceability of contracts in Florida is a matter of importance in Florida public policy.

Accordingly, because a marital settlement agreement is treated like any other contract, and is subject to interpretation like any other contract, they can be enforced by the court.

New Heights

According to Adel, there was no hesitation:

It was clear to me I would do this. He’s the great father to my children, and they need an involved parental figure in their lives to be happy. In my opinion, when you get divorced, the children should always be top priority.

Interestingly she did not consult with anyone. Some family members and friends raised an eyebrow, but they realized how determined she was. Her ex-husband and she had some heart-to-heart conversations about this, and there were people who helped move the process along from an operational perspective.

Doctors explained after the operation she would feel no difference in her day-to-day life. It’s like we were born with two kidneys so we would give one away when needed. What Adel did not anticipate is that she would be a match for someone else while waiting for the surgery.

The donation coordinator at Rabin Medical Center called and said there’s a young man who has been waiting for a kidney match for four years and she was ideal for it. She cried, because now there were two people who needed her help to live.

She spoke with both her ex-husband and the other, who said that as far as he’s concerned, the young man’s new kidney would come from her, while her the other person would receive his from another altruistic donor, who is a doctor himself from Soroka Medical Center.

The organ donation department director at Rabin Medical Center, said:

“This a complex multi-donation event. Whenever that happens, we feel very excited to be able to grant someone a new lease on life.”

The Ynet article is here.

Enforceability of Islamic Prenuptial Agreement

The Texas Supreme Court recently had to decide whether an Islamic prenuptial agreement is enforceable. Especially interesting is whether the agreement’s, Arbitration by Fiqh Panel Clause, can be enforced in a family law case involving children.

Texas Islamic Agreement

‘All My Exes Live In Texas’

The Wife, Ayad, and her Husband, Latif married in 2008. In connection with their marriage, they signed an “Islamic Pre-Nuptial Agreement”.

In the Islamic Pre-Nuptial Agreement, they said: “Belief that Islam . . . is binding on them in all spheres of life, and that any conflict which may arise between the husband and the wife will be resolved according to the Qur’an, Sunnah, and Islamic Law in a Muslim court, or in its absence by a Fiqh Panel.”

The three-person Figh Panel will be selected and provides that the panel “will not represent the parties in conflict, but rather, serve as impartial arbitrators and judges, guided by Islamic Law and its principles.” The majority decision of the Fiqh Panel will be binding and final.

Although the Wife’s signature appears on the Islamic Pre-Nuptial Agreement, she alleges that she did not become aware of its contents—or even see it—until she and her husband began experiencing marital difficulties in 2020.

The Wife argues she was “defrauded” into signing a prenup that violated her fundamental rights. In January 2021, she filed for divorce and sought to be appointed joint managing conservator of the couple’s six-year-old son.

Wife argued the term “Islamic Law” was too indefinite; the Agreement was void because it violated public policy; Husband’s previous breaches of the Agreement had excused Ayad from performing; and the Agreement was unconscionable.

The trial court held a hearing on Husband’s motion to enforce, and concluded it would order the parties to arbitrate under the Agreement. The court held a second hearing in which it gave each party twenty minutes to address solely whether the Agreement was entered into voluntarily.

The trial court ruled it had no discretion under the Texas General Arbitration Act but to enforce the Agreement and refer the parties to arbitration per the terms of their Agreement, but would review the award to determine if it violated constitutional rights or public policy, and would hold a hearing to determine whether the award was in the best interest of the child.

The Wife sought review in the Supreme Court of Texas.

Florida and Islamic Prenuptial Agreements

I’ve written about religious prenuptial agreements, such as the Mahr (Islamic Prenuptial Agreement) before. Prenuptial agreements are not just for celebrities. Anyone who brings personal or business assets into their marriage can benefit from a prenuptial agreement.

Prenups are also important to have in place before a couple starts investing in businesses, buying properties, and accumulating mountains of debt. Many religions, especially Islam, have terms couples want to be governed by in the event of divorce.

But just having a prenup is not enough. Prenups are frequently challenged in court. Florida has both case law and a statute to help lawyers, judges and the parties determine if a prenuptial agreement is enforceable.

Florida also adopted the Uniform Premarital Agreement Act. The UPAA requires that all premarital agreements be in writing and signed by both parties. It is enforceable without consideration other than the marriage itself.

Because prenuptial agreements may be challenged in court, Florida courts must consider things such as fraud, duress, coercion, in addition to the constitutionality of prenups, whether they violate Florida law or Florida public policy.

‘Deep in the Heart of Texas’

The Supreme Court of Texas agreed with the Wife that the family court was required to hear and determine her challenges to the Agreement’s validity and enforceability before referring the parties to arbitration.

The Family Code, which provides that a trial court “may” refer suits for dissolution of marriage to either binding or nonbinding arbitration based on the parties’ written agreement is subject to certain limits.

Before arbitration, if a party to a divorce asserts that the agreement to arbitrate is not valid or enforceable,” then the court may order arbitration only if it determines that the agreement is valid and enforceable.

Here, the court incorrectly concluded it “must refer parties to arbitration when it is contracted by the parties,” and that it had “no discretion but to enforce the Agreement.” Since the trial court did not resolve the Wife’s challenges in its order compelling arbitration, and incorrectly concluded it could not, the trial court erred.

The Texas Supreme Court opinion is here.

Enforcing an Islamic Mahr Prenuptial Agreement

The extent of a court enforcing a religious prenuptial agreement, like the Islamic Mahr agreement, is big news. A family judge in Florida recently ruled that an Islamic Mahr agreement was not only enforceable, but waived equitable distribution and temporary support. How did an appellate court view the ruling?

Mahr Prenuptial Agreement

The Mahr from Thar

For many religious couples, in lieu of a secular prenuptial agreement, they sign a religious contract. Catholics have prenuptial agreements and Jews have a ketubah. In this recent Florida divorce, the parties signed an Islamic premarital agreement called a “Mahr” or “Mehr” agreement.

Although the agreement was entered in Bangladesh, neither party claimed it should be interpreted under Bangladeshi or Sharia law.

A Mahr is a contract to pay money – frequently expressed in gold coins – promised by a groom to his bride in the event of death or divorce. The amount is agreed to before the marriage and negotiated between the parents of the couple.

This Mahr agreement was two pages long, and had the explicit promise by Former Husband to pay Former Wife a total of 15 Bangladeshi lac Taka upon marriage. Five lac Taka were to be paid up front on marriage, and ten more in the event of a divorce.

At the time of the trial, 10 lac Taka was worth about $12,000. The Bangladeshi Taka has not been appreciating against the dollar lately.

At trial, the Former Wife argued that the ten lac Taka Mahr agreement was only the minimum amount she could ask the Former Husband for. In the Former Wife’s view, the Mehr did not waive her right to equitable distribution and temporary alimony.

The Former Husband, on the other hand, argued that the ten lac Taka under the Mahr agreement was the maximum she could get. The purpose of the Mahr was to guarantee an agreed sum to her. By agreeing to a guaranteed payment in advance, she waived her rights to ask for anything else.

The family law judge found that the Former Wife had built up some equity in the jointly titled, marital home, but then awarded it to the Former Husband. Then the court ordered Former Wife to vacate the house.

Relying on the Mahr agreement, the judge also denied Former Wife temporary alimony, limiting her to the ten lac Taka lump sum.

The Former Wife appealed.

Florida Prenuptial Agreements

I’ve written about religious prenuptial agreements, such as the Mahr, before. Prenuptial agreements are not just for celebrities. Anyone who brings personal or business assets into their marriage can benefit from a prenuptial agreement.

Prenups are also important to have in place before a couple starts investing in businesses, buying properties, and accumulating mountains of debt.

But just having a prenup is not enough. Prenups are frequently challenged in court. Florida has both case law and a statute to help lawyers, judges and the parties determine if a prenuptial agreement is enforceable.

Florida also adopted the Uniform Premarital Agreement Act. The UPAA requires that all premarital agreements be in writing and signed by both parties. It is enforceable without consideration other than the marriage itself.

Because prenuptial agreements may be challenged in court, Florida courts must consider things such as fraud, duress, coercion, in addition to the unfairness of the agreement, and whether there was any financial disclosure.

Florida the Sunshine Religious State?

Many people don’t realize that religious agreements can be enforceable in Florida. However, there is a limitation, only a religious agreement’s secular terms are enforceable as a contractual obligation. That is true even if the secular terms were agreed to in a religious ceremony.

Here, the parties disputed how the terms of the Mahr agreement should be interpreted. Former Husband argued the Mahr agreement was meant to protect a spouse in the event of a divorce, so the Mahr should be read as the entirety of Former Wife’s recovery.

Former Wife argued the lack of waiver language in the Mahr agreement –stating that the couple intended to waive equitable distribution and alimony – meant she was entitled to ask a Florida court for relief in addition to the Mahr.

The appellate court reversed, holding that parties to a prenuptial agreement — religious or secular — are allowed to contract away their traditional marital rights, but they must do so in a way that comports with Florida law.

To contract away marital rights, a prenuptial agreement’s plain language must unambiguously express a desire to waive equitable distribution. Additionally, any agreement that waives or limits the right to temporary support and attorney’s fees violates Florida public policy.

Because the Mahr did not expressly bar Former Wife from seeking a property division and alimony, it couldn’t overcome Florida’s strong public policy in favor of equitable distribution and temporary alimony.

The opinion is here.

 

Cheap Online Prenups

A segment aired on the ABC television show Shark Tank about a company selling cheap online prenups. There is no question a contract can be done cheaply online – especially when no lawyers are involved.  But lawyers  hired to create, or challenge, or defend real world prenuptial agreements can tell you if the cheap, online prenups are worth it.

Cheap Prenup

“He who represents himself, has a fool for a client”

No one likes to read the fine print on websites they visit. But, maybe you’re the kind of person who is comfortable getting a medical diagnosis from WebMD! Even if you are, you may want to avoid unpleasant surprises and look through the website’s “Terms of Use” (the agreement every user must agree to and abide by in order to use a website or service).

Websites may advertise that their online legal services and prenuptial agreements are prepared by “family lawyers.” However, if you look at the website’s Terms of Use, they may likely reveal that the prenups they are selling you – which will govern years of alimony payments, the division of all your property, tax consequences, and your life after marriage – were created without any “legal advice.” Or my personal favorite: no law was considered about your situation when drafting your prenuptial agreement.

Prenuptial agreements are important documents. So, if you don’t care that your cheap, online prenup did not take into consideration any law, let alone any changes in the law, or that any of the information is current, a cheap online prenup may fit nicely next to your online medical diagnosis.

Florida Prenuptial Agreements

I’ve written about prenuptial agreements before. Prenuptial agreements are not just for tech billionaires, celebrity actors and rock stars. Prenups are about much more than just resolving who gets that expensive Montana ranch acquired during a marriage.

Any couple who brings any personal or business assets (or debts) into their marriage can benefit from a prenuptial agreement. They are important to have in place before a couple starts investing in businesses, buying properties, and accumulating mountains of debt.

But just having a prenup is not sufficient. That’s because prenups are frequently challenged in court. Florida has both case law and a statute to help lawyers, judges and the parties determine if a prenuptial agreement is enforceable.

Florida adopted the Uniform Premarital Agreement Act. The UPAA requires that all premarital agreements be in writing and signed by both parties. It is enforceable without consideration other than the marriage itself.

Couples wanting to sign one can enter into a premarital agreement with respect to their rights and obligations in any of their property, whenever and wherever acquired or located; their right to buy, sell, use, transfer, or otherwise manage and control their property and the disposition of their property if they separate, divorce, die, or any other event.

Because prenuptial agreements may be challenged in court, Florida courts must consider things such as fraud, duress, coercion, in addition to the unfairness of the agreement, and whether there was any financial disclosure.

Good, Cheap, or Fast? Choose Two

Prenuptial agreements are very technical and one size does not fit all. They are particularly important to protect your future income, children from another marriage, potential inheritances, businesses and your business partners, other assets, and your sources of income.

The last thing that you want to do is wonder if you are protected by a cheap, online prenup; one which may not be enforceable on its face. As mentioned above, Florida adopted the Uniform Premarital Agreement Act. The UPAA is Florida’s recognition that there is not always uniformity in how prenups are enforced, challenged and defended.

There are many nuances in the law of prenups which can differ from state to state. For instance, some provisions in a prenup which are available in one state – such as the ability to waive temporary alimony – may not be available in another state. There may also be differences between states about the sufficiency of the financial disclosures required.

There are also questions about privilege and confidentiality. In Florida, communications with your attorney are generally privileged. This means that communications between a client and their lawyer can be confidential. This can also mean that, absent some exception or waiver, neither an attorney or a client can be compelled to divulge confidential communications made during the rendition of legal services.

What do online, cheap prenup websites offer? As the websites plainly tell you, they are not your law firm. So, communications between you and the website are probably not privileged communications under the attorney-client privilege or work product doctrine.

This could result in your communications not being protected. And if your prenup gets challenged in court, you may be in the uncomfortable position of watching someone you thought was your lawyer testify against you.

One cheap, online prenup website said it best:

“Any Legal Information provided is not a substitute for legal advice from a qualified attorney licensed to practice in an appropriate jurisdiction.”

The JDSupra article is here.

 

Transformer: Marital Settlement Agreement

Actress Megan Fox and her estranged husband Brian Austin Green are transformers: changing from married to single after finalizing their marital settlement agreement. The settlement agreement should resolve all of the parenting and financial issues raised in their divorce.

marital settlement agreement

More Than Meets the Eye

Actress Megan Fox, 35, is one of the stars of the Transformers movie franchise. Her husband, David Austin Green, 48, is also an actor, best known for his portrayal of David Silver on the television series Beverly Hills, 90210

According to many reports, the couple did not have a prenuptial agreement before getting married. This means that, under California law, they will have to divide all of the community property they acquired during their decade-long marriage.

Details about the marital settlement agreement are murky. It is unclear whether either one of the parties will be paying alimony or child support, though the divorce documents refer to a settlement being agreed upon outside of court.

Regarding parenting, the couple agreed to share joint legal and physical custody of their three children, a highly contentious issue for many couples, but a demand which Fox requested when she initially filed for divorce in November 2020.

Fox will also get her legal last name changed back from Green. News reports indicate both Fox and Green have moved on. Fox has been in a highly publicized romance with Machine Gun Kelly since mid-2020, while Green has been dating “DWTS” pro Sharna Burgess.

Florida Marital Settlement Agreements

I’ve written about agreements before. Most family law cases are resolved by agreement, not by trial. A Marital Settlement Agreement is the method to resolving all of the issues, and is the final product of the negotiations.

A marital settlement agreement puts in writing all the aspects of the divorcing parties’ settlement. Topics covered in the Marital Settlement Agreement include the parenting plan and timesharing schedule, the division of the parties’ assets and liabilities (called “equitable distribution”), alimony, child support, payment of attorney’s fees and costs, and any other items to which the parties have agreed.

A marital settlement agreement entered into by the parties and ratified by a final judgment is a contract, subject to the laws of contract. The enforceability of contracts in Florida is a matter of importance in Florida public policy.

Marital Settlement Agreements in Florida are treated differently than prenuptial agreements. There’s a good reason for the difference in treatment, and it turns on the adequacy of the knowledge of the finances involved.

The adequacy of knowledge can be plausibly raised only when an agreement was reached by people in conditions of mutual trust and confidence and who are not dealing at arm’s length – such as when you are negotiating a prenuptial agreement.

But once you are involved in divorce proceedings in court, you are dealing at arm’s length and without the special fiduciary relationship of unestranged spouses. Questions about the adequacy of your knowledge of finances don’t really exist when you are in court and have the opportunity to take financial discovery.

Hope and Faith

The couple had a rollercoaster relationship from the start. After meeting on the set of “Hope & Faith” when Fox was just 18 in 2004, they were engaged and living together by 2006. In 2009, they made a “mutual decision” to end their engagement only to be re-engaged and married by the end of June 2010.

Four years and two kids into their marriage, Fox stated very publicly that there was no “intimacy whatsoever” with her husband during a red carpet interview. Fox has been in a new relationship with Machine Gun Kelly consisting of a  whirlwind of PDA’s and selfies.

Her soon to be ex-husband Green confirmed:

“I’ve never met him, but Megan and I have talked about him. They’re friends at this point, and from what she’s expressed, he’s a really nice, genuine guy, and I trust her judgment.”

The Fox News article is here.

 

Validity of Prenuptial Agreements

Courts which uphold the validity of prenuptial agreements have singer, Kelly Clarkson, singing a happy tune. A family court judge recently declared her prenup was valid. The ruling means Clarkson holds the reins to a $10.4 million Montana ranch where her former husband, Brandon Blackstock, has been living and refusing to leave.

Prenuptial Agreement

Stronger in the Treasure State

Singer, songwriter, and The Voice coach, Kelly Clarkson, gave her fans a sneak peek of her ranch in rural Montana, where she was sheltering-in-place with her family amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Earlier this year, before ruling on ownership of the ranch, the judge ruled that her music manager and ex-husband, Brandon Blackstock, would have to pay $81,000 per month for the upkeep for the Montana ranch where he was then residing.

Although court papers show that he is only making about $10,000 per month – a far cry from his ex’s $1.5 million monthly income – Clarkson was then paying him $150,000 in spousal support and another $45,000 in child support each month.

Recently the family court rejected Blackstock’s argument that the Montana ranch is marital property and should be shared equally by both exes, according to the Sept. 30 order obtained by E! News. Instead, the judge upheld their premarital agreement, and found that the Montana ranch was Clarkson’s non-marital property identified in the prenup.

The family judge’s ruling means Clarkson takes control of the ranch:

“The Court further finds that the Montana Ranch and the other two Montana properties are not titled in both of the Parties’ names either as joint tenants with right of survivorship or as tenants by the entireties, as required under the PMA to create marital property,” reads the decision. “The Court therefore rejects Respondent’s position that the Montana Ranch and other Montana properties are marital property owned 50/50 by the Parties.”

The situation appears to be complicated for the pair: While Clarkson owns the property, her ex-husband is the one living there.

Florida Prenuptial Agreements

I’ve written about prenuptial agreements before. Prenuptial agreements are not just for celebrity singers and songwriters, and they are about much more than just resolving expensive Montana ranches acquired during a marriage.

Any couple who brings any personal or business assets to their marriage can benefit from a prenuptial agreement. They are important to have in place before a couple starts investing in businesses, properties, and other investments.

But prenups are frequently challenged in court.

Florida has both case law and a statute to help lawyers, judges and the parties determine if a prenuptial agreement is enforceable. For example, Florida adopted the Uniform Premarital Agreement Act. The Act requires that all premarital agreements be in writing and signed by both parties. It is enforceable without consideration other than the marriage itself.

Couples wanting to sign one can enter into a premarital agreement with respect to their rights and obligations in any of their property, whenever and wherever acquired or located; their right to buy, sell, use, transfer, or otherwise manage and control their property and the disposition of their property if they separate, divorce, die, or any other event.

Prenuptial agreements may be challenged in court, as Kelly Clarkson’s former husband tried. When ruling on the validity of a prenup, Florida courts must consider things such as fraud, duress, coercion, in addition to the unfairness of the agreement, and whether there was any financial disclosure.

Mr. Know It All

In order to beef up his claim to marital property, after their separation, Blackstock made a “deliberate choice” to “change his life” and become a full-time rancher, according to an August filing obtained by E! News. At the time, he was “exclusively using” the Montana ranch as his “residence and business.”

Clarkson previously requested permission to sell the ranch because of the “financial burden” of maintaining a property that was only being used by her ex-husband. The costs of maintaining the ranch are $81,000 per month, the court determined.

However, the judge initially rejected her request to sell the Montana site. Blackstock was ordered to pay the hefty property fees beginning in April 2021. For her part, Clarkson was required to pay nearly $200,000 per month to Blackstock, a former music manager, in spousal and child support. He is responsible for “100% of the cost” of transporting their two children (River, 7, and Remington, 5) to and from Montana. He has a 25 percent custodial timeshare.

After the ruling on the prenuptial agreement, Clarkson now has the right to sell the Montana ranch as she is the one who purchased it, according to the report. The ex couple’s divorce has been ‘bifurcated’ meaning the end of the marriage has officially been declared and some financial issues were reserved on.

The NBC Chicago news article is here.

 

Prenuptial Agreements and Waiving Alimony

Actor Robert De Niro is wondering why he signed a prenuptial agreement since it doesn’t seem to be waiving alimony very well. De Niro’s lawyer is claiming the actor is being worked to death to keep up with his estranged wife’s extravagant lifestyle — including her “thirst for Stella McCartney” and $1 million-plus diamond rings.

Prenup Alimony

Aging Bull

According to De Niro’s lawyer during a virtual court divorce hearing:

“Mr. De Niro is 77 years old, and while he loves his craft, he should not be forced to work at this prodigious pace because he has to/ When does he get the opportunity to not take every project that comes along and not work six-day weeks, 12-hour days so he can keep pace with Ms. Hightower’s thirst for Stella McCartney?”

He could get sick tomorrow, and the party’s over,” she said of the famed “Raging Bull” and “The Irishman” star. De Niro phoned into the proceeding, while Hightower appeared by video link.

She also claims De Niro is already a tax delinquent again — with the paychecks from his next two movies to offset his latest multimillion-dollar bill to Uncle Sam, his divorce lawyer claimed.

Florida Prenuptial Agreements

I’ve written about prenuptial agreements and the De Niro divorce before. Prenuptial agreements are not just for celebrity sports figures, and they are about much more than just resolving uncertainty in a marriage.

Any couple who brings any personal or business assets to the union can benefit from one. They are also important to have in place before a couple starts investing in businesses, properties and other investments. But prenups are frequently challenged in court.

Florida has both case law and a statute to help lawyers, judges and the parties determine if a prenuptial agreement is enforceable. For example, Florida courts must consider things such as fraud, duress, coercion, in addition to the unfairness of the agreement, and whether there was any financial disclosure.

And as Robert De Niro is figuring out, even though a prenuptial agreement can waive alimony, temporary support during the divorce proceedings, and child support, may not be waivable in a prenuptial agreement. Florida courts have, recognized that, notwithstanding language in the prenuptial agreement to the contrary, spouses are still entitled to temporary support. In Florida, it is against the public policy to enforce any provisions waiving temporary support.

The War With Grandpa

The recent New York hearing came as the couple squabbles over how much temporary support De Niro should have to pay to Hightower until the divorce is finalized.

Hightower’s lawyer, Kevin McDonough, argued that since filing for divorce in 2018, De Niro has unfairly continued to cut the amount of money he has been sending his estranged spouse, including involving her credit-card expenses, going from $375,000 a month to just $100,000 monthly as recently as January.

But Krauss claimed that in the years leading up to their separation, Hightower was spending more and more. In just 2019, she had spent $1.67 million — including buying a diamond worth $1.2 million from jeweler Kwiat, the lawyer said.

Krauss said De Niro is behind millions of dollars on his taxes and that the money from his next two movie projects will go toward paying off those liabilities. De Niro — who was clobbered with a $6.4 million tax lien in 2015 — has previously said the pandemic decimated his finances.

“If he wants to direct or compel his family to leave their longtime home while he’s spending millions and millions and millions on himself, on his own homes, on renovating what his lawyers tongue-in-cheek call his cottage in Montauk, which he has poured millions and millions into over the past couple of years, he can take that position,” McDonough claimed of the actor.

“There have been no cutbacks and no slowdowns in Mr. De Niro’s lifestyle whatsoever,” McDonough said. Until the prenuptial agreement goes into effect, De Niro is supposed to pay her so she can “maintain the status quo” lifestyle she had when they were married — while also crying foul on Krauss’ claims that De Niro is struggling financially.

The Fox news article is here.

Prenups for Millennials

Millennials are often known to buck convention, and that may be true with prenups. While prenups have been most common among celebrities, the rich, and couples entering second and third marriages, more young people are requesting them.

Millennial Prenups

Closing Time

The term Millennials generally refers to the generation of people born between the early 1980s and 1990s, and as the Wall Street Journal reports, younger adults of all income levels are drafting prenups.

Millennials are not only trying to protect assets accumulated before and during marriage but to address societal realities that weren’t necessarily present or common years ago, such as a desire to keep finances separate, student debt, social-media use, embryo ownership and even pet care.

Experts point to the fact that many millennials are children of divorced parents and have had an intimate look at what can happen financially when a marriage dissolves. At the same time, the stigma or taboo that used to be associated with discussing money before marriage is slowly disappearing.

Some millennial couples who want to maintain a clear separation of their finances during marriage are using prenups as a workaround for state laws that would otherwise treat certain assets as marital property.

This mind-set change is even true for clients who don’t have significant assets to protect going into the marriage, lawyers say. Some millennials want to keep their finances—current and future—separate and businesslike, which would allow them to leave a marriage, if necessary, without many strings attached.

Florida Prenups

I’ve written about prenuptial agreements before. Prenuptial agreements are about more than just exploring the strange new world of marriage. A prenuptial agreement (or “prenup” for short) is a contract between people intending to marry. A prenup determines spousal rights when the marriage ends by death or divorce.

If you divorce without a prenup, your property rights are determined under state law, and a spouse may have a claim to alimony while the suit for divorce is pending and after entry of a judgment.

That’s where prenups come in. Prospective spouses may limit or expand state laws by an agreement. Prenups are also used to protect the interests of children from a prior marriage, and to avoid a contested divorce.

All the Small Things

As the Wall Street Journal article further explains, for young couples who haven’t been married before and don’t have children, prenups need to anticipate all sorts of questions related to potential alimony payments, such as: Will one of you stay home with children or do you both plan to continue working? What might each of your potential incomes be? Will you need job training?

Many younger professionals might think to waive alimony completely, especially if they both have their own careers and lead separate financial lives. However, if there is a chance that one spouse could be out of the workforce for a considerable time, beyond a standard maternity or paternity leave, to raise children, it could impact future employability and earning capacity.

Many millennials are also going into a marriage with significant student and credit-card debt, which also is a change from the past. A recent Fidelity Investments report, for example, found that millennials in 2020 had an average loan balance of $52,000.

As a result, handling debt issues are making their way into prenuptial agreements. One couple, where a wife-to-be had $75,000 in student-loan and credit-card debt, the couple added a provision to their prenup that said any marital assets used to pay off her debt had to be reimbursed in the event of the divorce.

Another couple used a prenup to address how any future student debt taken on during the marriage would be handled. They agreed that this type of debt would be considered the borrowing party’s personal debt, not a marital debt.

As more couples decide to delay having children until later in life, more prenuptial agreements are including directions for dealing with genetic material in the event of divorce. In a prenuptial agreement, a couple can agree that in the event of a divorce, their embryos would be donated to stem-cell research through a local stem-cell bank. Neither party could use the embryos without the consent of the other party.

Pet provisions also are becoming more commonplace in today’s prenups by people who view their pets as their de facto families. A prenup can be crafted with a visitation schedule, a plan to split vet bills and pet insurance costs and address what would happen if one of the partners moved far away from the other.

Some millennials want to address social media in prenups to ensure that one spouse can’t write nasty things about the other in the event they break up. However, it is easy to run into First Amendment issues.

The Wall Street Journal article is here.

 

Enforcing or Modifying Your Marital Settlement Agreement

We scored another big appellate win which sheds light on the question: are you enforcing or modifying your marital settlement agreement when a family court requires the continuation of soccer and other extra-curriculars?

The Beautiful Game

In our recent appeal, the parents had three children. After less than a decade of marriage, they divorced in Portugal, but they never had a parenting plan for their children. After they both moved to Miami with the children, a family court ratified their agreed parenting plan.

Under their parenting plan, they agreed to certain extracurricular activities, including organized activities such as soccer, lessons and special training. However, the sports and activities had to be mutually agreed on by the parents in accordance with Florida’s shared parental responsibility statute.

All of the children’s current extracurricular activities, especially ‘the beautiful game,’ soccer, were agreed upon by both parents. Additionally, they agreed that the parent exercising time sharing with the children handle the transportation with the necessary equipment.

Although all three of the children were traditionally dedicated to sporting activities, their involvement in youth soccer travel teams had increased, requiring more of a time commitment because the children are expected to attend frequent practices, and regularly traveling outside of their local community for games and tournaments.

The father filed a motion to stop the soccer commitments of the children and to eliminate his obligation to transport the children to certain competitive events during his timesharing.

The family judge heard his motion, and, after considering the relative merits of the parties, along with the language reflected within the parenting plan, entreated the parties to reach an agreement as to enrollment and participation in the relevant activities.

When that failed, the court conducted another hearing and authorized the mother to re-enroll the children in their respective leagues and directing the father to transport the children to those competitive events scheduled during his timesharing.

He appealed.

Florida Marital Settlement Agreements

I’ve written about modifications and enforcement of marital settlement agreements before. Most family law cases are resolved by agreement, not by trial. A Marital Settlement Agreement is the method to resolving all of the issues, and is the final product of the negotiations.

A marital settlement agreement puts in writing all the aspects of the divorcing parties’ settlement. Topics covered in the Marital Settlement Agreement include the parenting plan and timesharing schedule, the division of the parties’ assets and liabilities, and often times: soccer and other extra-curricular activities to which the parties have agreed.

A marital settlement agreement entered into by the parties and ratified by a final judgment is a contract, subject to the laws of contract. The enforceability and modifications of contracts in Florida is a matter of importance in Florida public policy.

Because a marital settlement agreement is treated like any other contract, and is subject to interpretation like any other contract, they can be enforced by the court. Unique to marital settlement agreements though, they may be modified too.

But sometimes it is difficult to tell whether the court’s action is a modification of a contract or the enforcement of a contract. Our recent appellate goal hopefully sheds some light on that distinction.

Goal!

Ruling in our favor, the appellate court wrote an opinion stating that under the principle of shared parental responsibility, major decisions affecting the welfare of the child are to be made after the parents confer and reach an agreement.

However, in cases in which the parents cannot reach agreement on such a decision, the dispute should be presented to the trial court for resolution. In resolving the impasse, the lower tribunal must be guided by a consideration of the best interests of the child.

In our case, the parenting plan allows for shared decisions over extracurricular activities, but prohibited the unreasonable withholding of consent. So, the court was properly permitted to explore the facts and circumstances surrounding both continued participation and transportation.

At the time the parents signed the parenting plan, the children were already heavily involved in soccer. By including a provision that the “present extracurricular activities are agreed upon by both parents,” and allocating continuing enrollment expenses and other relevant allowances for league travel, the agreement clearly anticipated a continuation of such participation.

Further, as the trial court did not “change the status quo [or] alter the rights and obligations of the parties,” but merely rejected the unreasonable withholding of consent, we conclude the decision was grounded in enforcement of the existing 7 terms of the judgment, and affirmed.

The opinion is here.

 

Straight Outta Court

Dr Dre is wondering if his prenup will get him straight outta court. He announced that he and his wife Nicole Young are getting divorced after 24-years of marriage. Young filed for divorce from Dre, whose real name is Andre Romelle Young, citing irreconcilable differences. One of the interesting issues is whether Young signed a prenuptial agreement.

Compton

Straight Outta Compton

The couple, who married in May 1996, share two children together, son Truice, 23, and daughter Truly, 19. Dre also has four children from previous relationships, daughters Tyra Young and La Tanya Danielle Young, and sons Marcel and Curtis.

The music mogul, 55, and Young, 50, announced their split after 24 years of marriage in June, and Dre revealed that the couple, who wed in 1996, does have a prenuptial agreement, despite initial reports that indicated the two do not. Young is asking for spousal support and a division of property.

In 2019, Forbes estimated that Dre’s net worth was $800m, making him the second-wealthiest hip hop artist in the world that year. The rapper’s fortune is in part due to the success of his headphone line, Beats by Dre, which was acquired by Apple in 2014 for $3bn.

According to TMZ, Dre, who listed the date of their separation as March 27, 2020, and cited irreconcilable differences as the reason for their split, agreed to pay spousal support but says any distribution of property should be controlled by their prenuptial agreement. Young’s petition did not mention a prenup and the outlet reported that she has claimed she never signed one.

Florida Prenuptial Agreements

I’ve written about prenuptial agreements before. Prenuptial agreements are about more than just protecting yourself after your marriage. A prenuptial agreement (or “prenup” for short) is a contract between people intending to marry.

A prenup determines spousal rights when the marriage ends by death or divorce. This can be especially important for those who boldly go into fourth marriages.

If you divorce without a prenup, your property rights are determined under state law, and a spouse may have a claim to alimony while the suit for divorce is pending and after entry of a judgment. Many couples divorcing would prefer not to spend too much time litigating in family court.

That’s where prenups come in. Prospective spouses may limit or expand state laws by an agreement. Prenups are also used to protect the interests of children from a prior marriage, and to avoid a contested divorce.

There are many problems with prenuptial agreements too. If a prenuptial agreement includes any provisions that violate the law or public policy, it may automatically be deemed invalid.

Additionally, a prenuptial agreement cannot waive child support, and can’t set an amount for child support. Courts have plenary power over support issues, so child support amounts are determined by courts based on our child support guidelines.

Also, a premarital agreement may not be enforceable in a family court case, for instance, if it was not signed voluntarily; or if it was the product of fraud, duress, coercion, or overreaching.

Deez Prenups

The 55-year-old, who started his career as a member of the rap group NWA, also founded the record label Aftermath Entertainment, which previously signed Eminem and 50 Cent.

In 2015, Dre apologized to “the women I’ve hurt” following allegations of physical abuse against women, telling The New York Times:

Twenty-five years ago I was a young man drinking too much and in over my head with no real structure in my life. However, none of this is an excuse for what I did. I’ve been married for 19 years and every day I’m working to be a better man for my family, seeking guidance along the way. I’m doing everything I can so I never resemble that man again.

This divorce, given the stakes and the profiles of the parties, is expected to be completed relatively quickly and privately. Generally, anything he acquired before marriage would be his separate property, with or without a prenuptial agreement. Dre sold Beats during the marriage so there may not be a separate, or non-marital, component to it – meaning there is a very large sum of money that is at stake as marital property.

Young is going to get half of what he’s worth very likely, but while Dr. Dre has claimed he is willing to pay spousal support, Young probably won’t need spousal support after the marital estate is divided. She asked for temporary support and she may be able to get hundreds of thousands of dollars a month before the case is resolved. The couple was last seen together in public in February at the Tom Ford fashion show.

The Independent article is here.