The news from Nashville is that academy award winning actress, Reese Witherspoon, has initiated divorce proceedings against her husband Jim Toth. The divorce announcement is a reminder that prenuptial agreements are not only for protecting celebrities.
Not So Clueless
Reese Witherspoon is a very successful actress, and winner of an Academy Award, a British Academy Film Award, a Primetime Emmy Award, and two Golden Globe Awards. She ranks among the world’s highest-paid actresses. Witherspoon also owns Hello Sunshine, a media company she started during the marriage with Strand Equity Founder and Managing Partner Seth Rodsky.
Witherspoon has confirmed the couple’s 11-year marriage is ending in divorce. According to court documents, she has cited irreconcilable differences as the reason behind the divorce. The divorce was filed in a circuit court in Nashville, where the couple live with their 10-year-old son.
Reports indicate that court documents she filed reveal that the couple signed a prenuptial agreement in March 2011. In the court documents, Witherspoon alleges that the prenuptial agreement is valid, and that their prenup will provide “adequate and sufficient provisions” for the distribution of their assets and debts.
Florida Prenuptial Agreements
I’ve written about prenuptial agreements before. Prenuptial agreements are not just for celebrity, academy award winning actresses. They are also about more than just resolving what to do with a successful media company created 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 a prenuptial agreement can enter into a premarital agreement with respect to their rights and obligations in any of their property. Whenever and wherever property was acquired or where it is located; couples can control their right to buy, sell, use, transfer, or otherwise manage and control their property if they separate, divorce, or die.
While prenuptial agreements may be challenged in court, we will have to wait and see if Witherspoon’s husband will try to avoid their prenuptial agreement. 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.
Divorce in Pleasantville
In court documents, in addition to alleging the couple has a prenuptial agreement in place, Witherspoon also asks the court to designate her and Toth as joint custodians of their 10-year-old son. Witherspoon and her CAA talent agent husband announced their divorce in a joint statement, just days before their 12th anniversary.
They announced personal news to share. They also stated it was with a great deal of care and consideration that they have made the difficult decision to divorce. They mentioned they have enjoyed so many wonderful years together and are moving forward with deep love, kindness and mutual respect for everything they have created together.
“Our biggest priority is our son and our entire family as we navigate this next chapter. These matters are never easy and are extremely personal. We truly appreciate everyone’s respect for our family’s privacy at this time.”
The People article is here.