Tag: Agreements

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.

 

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.

 

Israeli Prenuptial Agreements are Kosher

Whether Israeli prenuptial agreements are kosher is a big question in the holy land as Israel’s version of Real Housewives, Nicol Raidman, has filed for divorce from her former oligarch and billionaire industrialist husband Michael Cherney.

Israeli Prenuptial Agreement

Land of Milk and Honey

Nicol Raidman is a businesswoman, socialite and former reality TV celebrity in Israel, who recently announced she is divorcing her billionaire husband in what is shaping up to be the most expensive divorce lawsuit in Israeli history, Channel 12 news reported Monday.

After 11 years of marriage, Raidman and industrialist Michael Cherney are dissolving their union. But Raidman is alleging that Cherney has failed to honor his prenup with her, which promised her $25 million (NIS 86 million) in any settlement.

She is now planning to take Cherney to court and demanding hundreds of millions of shekels under their prenuptial agreement.

Prenuptial agreements are generally enforceable in Israel, if authorized before a notary, a marriage registrar, or by the family court or the religious court. In fact, former Justice Minister, Ayelet Shaked, called on couples getting married to sign prenuptial agreements to ensure that husbands will not withhold a get, or Jewish writ of divorce, from their wives.

In Israel, where all divorces are subject to religious law, the norm has left thousands of women in legal limbo due to husbands who refuse to grant divorces. The phenomenon has received a lot of attention in recent years as rabbis try to battle husbands who are “get-refusers.”

Some Jewish groups mandate its members require couples to sign a prenuptial agreement to avoid such scenarios. The agreement, commonly referred to as a “halachic prenup,” generally penalizes the husband financially for refusing to give the get.

Florida Prenuptial Agreements

I’ve written about prenuptial agreements 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.

Real Housewives of the Holy Land

Cherney’s lawyer told the network that any and all claims would be made to the court rather than the media. Raidman is known to be a close friend of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s wife Sara.

In 2011-2013 Raidman took part in the Channel 10 reality television show “Me’usharot” based on the US show “The Real Housewives.” She has launched her own luxury clothing and perfume brands.

Cherney, an oligarch who made his fortune in the former Soviet Union, is a close confidant of Yisrael Beyteinu party leader Avigdor Liberman. The couple have two children.

The Times of Israel article is here.

 

Prenuptial Agreements Take Center Field

Prenuptial agreements take center field, former Cardinal center fielder, Jim Edmonds, is finding out. That’s because his estranged wife, Meghan King, is trying to strike out their prenuptial agreement after the divorce was filed. Can prenuptial agreements be challenged?

Prenuptial Agreement Center Field

Play Ball!

Baseball is back in the news this summer, and retired slugger Jim Edmonds, is not having a great season. The four-time All-Star, who played 17 seasons most of which with the St. Louis Cardinals and California/Anaheim Angels, was hospitalized for pneumonia earlier in the year, and now admits he tested positive for the coronavirus.

But striking out a prenuptial agreement is the play of the day. Prenuptial agreements set out what property stays yours, what property does not, and ensure that your assets stay in your family line for the benefit of your children from another relationship and other reasons. Prenups can even be used to limit your exposure to paying alimony.

But can Meghan get out of her prenuptial agreement? Jimmy Baseball’s divorce is at a standstill until a judge decides if his prenuptial agreement is valid.

Florida Prenuptial Agreements

I’ve written about prenuptial agreements 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.

Batter Up!

According to reports, Meghan herself has publicly explained the agreement was done at her urging because she didn’t want Jim’s family to think she was trying to take his money.

The mom-of-three openly discussed the matter throughout her time starring on the Bravo reality TV series and explained why she was so adamant about moving forward with a prenup.

“Way before we ever got engaged, I suggested him getting a prenup to protect his feelings about our marriage, about where my heart is coming from. And honestly, a big part of the reason, totally aside from the whole marriage thing, why I wanted it is to protect the children because I never wanted the children’s mothers or the children to think that me as their step mom or as this new person in their life was going to take things from them.

Jim, 49, has four kids of his own from previous relationships. He and Meghan welcomed three kids, daughter Aspen and twin boys Hart and Hayes, during their marriage. They split custody 50-50.

Additionally, reports say Jim is paying Meghan “more than three times” the amount of child support that’s been suggested by the court and continues to foot the bill for many of her living expenses. He is letting her live in one of his homes in St. Louis and is paying the mortgage and all the bills for that house. He gives her money for her full-time nanny and housekeeper.

He pays for practically every single expense related to the children. And, if that wasn’t enough, he pays half the rent on her Los Angeles beach house. Jim has been beyond generous to Meghan and provides full financial support for his children,” the rep asserts.

Meghan has told E! News:

“I’m looking forward to putting this behind me amicably and I don’t wish to discuss the private details of my divorce at this time.”

In an Instagram comment shared by Meghan and captured by tabloids last month, she shot down one follower’s claim that she’s received “serious child support” from her estranged husband.

“Girl I have a career thank you very much!” she wrote back. “That child support is not buying me gold and baubles. It barely pays for groceries for my tribe!”

The E!-online article is here.

 

Five Simple Reasons for a Prenup

If you’re planning on getting married this year, you may be thinking about getting a prenuptial agreement. If so, you would not be alone. More and more people have requested prenups in the past few years. Here are five simple reasons why you should consider a prenuptial agreement before you get married.

Prenuptial Agreement

Prepare for the Worst

While I have written on the topic of prenuptial agreements before, U.S. News and World Report offers an article with some pros and cons about prenups you may want to consider. For example, entering a prenup can help you prepare for the worst.

If you watched your parents’ divorce – or have close friends who have divorced – you understand that divorce can happen to anyone.

What you may want to consider is that divorce can be planned for, so that its consequences are less severe on you. For example, a prenup can eliminate stressful issues relating to alimony, property division and your inheritance.

Protection from Debt

A prenup can also protect you from your spouse’s debt. Debt is probably one of the most common reason for a prenup with people going through first-time marriages. Sadly, part of divorce means taking care of debt that was incurred during the divorce.

In a perfect world, both people walk away responsible for the debts they created. Unfortunately, that is not the law.

The problem with debt is especially important today considering how much student debt people are carrying. No one wants to get divorced and add their ex’s graduate school debt to their own. A prenup can help you in dividing debts before they become a problem.

Transparency

A prenup forces you to commit to full transparency when it comes to talking about your finances.

If you openly talk about a prenup, chances are you’ll become better as a couple at discussing details about your finances and other concerns about marriage.

During your conversations with your future spouse, you may also learn some important things about your partner. You may, for example, find out before the wedding that the person you’re going to marry has numerous lawsuits and years of unpaid taxes, what your role as a parent will be, and other issues.

Protect Valuables

A prenuptial agreement can protect valuable assets you want to stay in your family. For example, your grandmother’s diamond ring, that has been in a family for generations, and has acquired a personal significance and sentiment far beyond its market value, could be an heirloom you want to add to an agreement.

A prenup is meant to govern how assets such as investments, grandmother’s diamond ring, and property will be handled if after the marriage you decide to divorce.

Because of the importance of a prenup, if your future spouse comes to you with a prenup, and you haven’t been involved in writing it, you’ll want to bring in your own attorney.

Focus on Your Future

A prenup forces you to focus on the future. This may be a prenup’s biggest advantage and disadvantage. You are able to decide now how to handle and prepare for a future event.

The problem of course, is that no one knows what the future will bring. One person can leave a marriage much wealthier than the other. Or it could go the other way, and you could be contracted to pay your partner far more than you’re able.

That uncertainty about the future doesn’t mean you shouldn’t get a prenup. Generally, if you or your partner has a lot to lose in a possible divorce, you should consider getting a prenup. If you own a business, have a large retirement account or assets you want to pass onto your children, a prenup is essential.

The US News and World Report article is here.

 

Goin’ Down for a South Park Prenup

When your marriage is no longer ‘awesome-o’, and your house cannot be described as a ‘Casa Bonita’, what do you do? If you’re Trey Parker, co-creator of South Park, you file for divorce, ask for joint custody, and enforce your South Park prenup.

South Park Prenup

Fishsticks

According to documents obtained by TMZ, Trey Parker recently filed for divorce from his wife, Bookie Parker, a former exotic dancer. The parties were married in 2014, and Trey lists their date of separation as February 28, 2019.

Trey filed the divorce petition in Los Angeles, and they had one daughter together before getting married. Their daughter may have worked on the show, voicing the character Ike, Kyle’s adopted Canadian brother.

Parker, who also co-created Broadway Smash “The Book of Mormon” with long-time creative partner Matt Stone, was previously married to Emma Sugiyama. The couple divorced after two years of marriage.

Parker, 49, asks for his daughter’s legal and physical joint custody. He is also seeking to terminate spousal support on the basis of the couple’s prenuptial agreement.

Lucky for Trey, he reportedly has a prenuptial agreement. These days, the prenup has become more important than ever. People are marrying when they are older, and more people are better informed about the implications of marriage.

And for people like Trey Parker, they are marrying a second time. Like Trey, more people marrying a second time look to have a prenuptial agreements prepared.

Florida Prenuptial Agreements

Prenuptial agreements aren’t just for wealthy Hollywood people like Trey Parker, entering second marriages, they are important for any couple planning to marry. I have written extensively on prenuptial agreements.

A prenup can help keep your non-marital property yours. The property you brought into the marriage is yours – mostly. But over time it is common for people to start mixing things up. Inheritance funds get deposited into joint accounts; properties get transferred into joint names…and all for good reason.

Unfortunately, tracing commingled property is expensive, and hard to prove. But, if you put it in writing at the beginning, you might be able to avoid this task, and save some money down the road.

Prenuptial agreements also help you to change the law. For example, right now in Florida, there were two bills recently introduced at the Legislature, and an ongoing debate, about alimony. When you go to court, a judge has to follow state law regarding alimony.

However, through prenuptial agreements you can modify Florida’s legal standards for awarding alimony, you can terminate it outright in many instances, in addition to modifying what the current law says about the amount of support and the duration of the alimony period.

Second Marriages

This is a second marriage for Trey. For second marriages, a prenup is an especially good idea. What some clients don’t realize is that going through a second, third, or fourth divorce can be more complicated than first-time divorces.

In multiple divorces, couples are older, and have less time to make up for losses. Also, couples are competing for dwindling resources. Child-support, alimony, and dividing up of the retirement accounts may still be pending, and there can be little left to divide in a second divorce.

Some can simply state what assets each party has brought into the marriage, and what assets each party will take away if the marriage ends. Or, if there is a disparity in incomes, you can add to the contract how much the lower-income spouse will receive.

Imaginationland

As noted in the article, Trey is asking the court to enforce the prenuptial agreement he signed with Boogie Parker enforced. Trey has a net worth estimated to be $500,000,000 from his ventures as the co-creator of South Park and play The Book of Mormon among others.

Trey’s first marriage to This is also Parker’s second marriage after previously being married from 2006 to 2008.

The New York Daily News article is here.

Image attribution Gage Skidmore

 

Prenups and Immigrants

You met on a warm sunny beach in an exotic country and now want your soulmate to join you in the United States . . . but obviously you want a prenup to protect yourself. Will your prenup protect you from having to support your immigrant spouse if something goes wrong?

prenups and immigrants

Immigration Basics

Many are not aware that since 1996, the U.S. requires all immigration petitioners to promise they will pay financial support to certain classes of foreign nationals. The way the government required support is guaranteed is the famous, Form I-864, Affidavit of Support.

Most family-based immigrants and some employment-based immigrants use Form I-864 to show they have adequate means of financial support and are not likely to rely on the U.S. government for financial support.

The form requires you to promise to maintain the intending immigrant – your new wife or husband – at 125% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines (“Poverty Guidelines”) and to reimburse government agencies for any means-tested benefits paid to the noncitizen beneficiary.

But what if you and your future spouse waive this support in a prenuptial agreement and want to waive the support requirements?

Florida Prenuptial Agreements

I’ve written about prenuptial agreements before. Prenuptial agreements, or prenups, are agreements you sign with your fiancé before marriage that outline how you two would end up in case of divorce or death.

A prenup can resolve things like alimony, ownership of businesses, title of properties, and for purposes of this post, spousal support and alimony. There are many other concerns that can be addressed in the prenup:

  • Caring for a parent
  • Going back to school
  • Shopping habits
  • Credit card debt;
  • Tax liabilities;
  • Alimony and child support from previous relationships; and
  • Death or disability

A few of the points of a prenup, is that you get to decide on the amount of alimony, the terms of support, or whether you will pay any alimony at all. Or can it? Because prenuptial agreements can limit how much alimony you pay, you might think that you are safe if you sign Form I-864. You might be wrong.

Building a Prenuptial Wall

The I-864 form is required in all cases where a U.S. citizen or permanent resident has filed an immigration petition for a foreign family member including for a spouse. The form is a serious concern for anyone signing a prenup.

Why? Because whether you can even may enter into a prenuptial agreement that waives a sponsor’s duties to a non-citizen-beneficiary under the I-864 is an open question in courts.

Some courts have held that prenuptial agreements which waive I-864 rights are unenforceable, while other courts have enforced the waiver in prenuptial agreements over the I-864 form. There is a split among courts.

The split decisions between different courts about the right to waive I-864 support rights creates a lot of uncertainty into whether a sponsor and beneficiary spouse can waive enforcement of the I-864.

Are a beneficiary’s I-864 rights in the nature of private rights under a contract, or would allowing waiver of I-864 enforcement allow an end-run around an important public policy?

The law is not as well settled as we lawyers like. If you are thinking about marrying a foreign national and residing in the United States, you are not alone. About 7% of U.S. marriages involve one or more foreign-born spouse.

Information about form I-864 is available here.

 

A Prenup Guide Down the Amazon

Twenty-five years after marrying, Jeff Bezos announced he is filing for divorce from MacKenzie. Unless there is a prenuptial agreement to guide them, investors holding high-priced shares of Amazon will be wondering if they should proceed to checkout.

Prenup

Prime Divorce

According to CNN, the Bezos are the world’s richest couple, and they recently announced they are getting a divorce “after a long period of loving exploration and trial separation.”

The divorce could drastically reduce Bezos’ stake in Amazon and open the door for his wife to become one of its largest shareholders, with new leverage at the company.

Given that Amazon launched after the pair were married, virtually all of Jeff Bezos’ current $137 billion net worth could be considered community property and have to be equally divided.

But is there a prenup or post-nup agreement to guide them?

Florida Prenuptial Agreements

I’ve written about prenuptial agreements before. Prenuptial agreements are about more than just resolving uncertainty in a marriage.

When a spouse is also the CEO of Amazon, they can be a guide past dangerous price swings. For example, when the CEO of Continental Resources was getting divorced, shares of his company dropped 2.9%. Conversely, when Rupert Murdoch announced his divorce, shares of News Corp gained 1.4%.

Why? Because in Rupert Murdoch’s case, the divorce announcement stressed the parties’ prenuptial agreement, that there would be no spin-offs, and a divorce would have “zero impact” on the company

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 in second 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.

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. Prenups can be a reliable guide down rough rivers if they’re done right.

Proceed to Checkout?

It is not known whether the Bezos have a prenuptial agreement. It’s also unclear where they might file for divorce. Assuming there is no agreement, the Amazon CEO may need to either sell off or transfer half of his stake in the company to fulfill an equal split for the divorce.

Unlike other tech CEOs, Jeff Bezos’ control over Amazon doesn’t come from having a majority of voting power at the company, but rather from a strong leadership track record over two decades.

Divorce without a prenup can hit publicly traded companies hard. CEOs might be forced to sell or transfer shares as part of a property division. Selling shares can reduce a CEO’s influence and impact decisions regarding corporate strategy, asset ownership, and board composition. Divorce also impacts productivity, concentration, and energy levels because divorce is stress, and divorce can change appetite for risk.

The CNN article is here.