Tag: prenuptial agreeements

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.

 

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.

 

Prenups Can Speed A Divorce

Exhibiting “warp speed”, actor William Shatner’s divorce from his fourth wife, Elizabeth Martin, has been finalized. The “Star Trek” actor filed for divorce last month, and apparently finalized it a month later. His prenuptial agreement likely helped speed his divorce to an early settlement.

Prenups Speed Divorce

Warp Speed

According to many reports, Shatner’s net worth is over $100 Million dollars from over two decades in acting. Distributing the actor’s fortune could have been a tremendous source of litigaton had there not been a prenuptial agreement.

However, court documents show the former couple had a prenuptial agreement in place, which allows the 88-year-old to keep his “Star Trek” royalties, the news outlet said. The actor was married to Martin for 18 years.

When reached by Fox News last month, Martin shared her brother had died around the time Shatner filed for the divorce and that she was with her family “during this time of grief.” “Respect distance from divorce topic while we grieve my brother respectfully,” she added. Representatives for Shatner did not immediately respond to Fox News’ request for comment.

Florida Prenuptial Agreements

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. 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 to explore the strange new worlds of 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.

As shown in Shatner’s case, prenups can also be the fastest way to resolve a future divorce . . . if they’re done right.

There are a galaxy of 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.

Flying Through the Divorce Nebula

In the Shatner divorce, he listed the couple’s separation date as February 1, 2019. He was previously married to Nerine Kidd, Marcy Lafferty and Gloria Rand. He shares two daughters, Lisabeth Shatner, 58, and Leslie Carol, 61, with Rand.

The actor shot to fame in the 1960s for his role as Captain James T. Kirk in the original series run of “Star Trek” and went on to have a lucrative film and TV career afterwards.

Shatner’s third marriage, to Kidd, ended in tragedy in 1999 when she died of accidental drowning in their swimming pool. Although the actor had filed for divorce after two years of marriage shortly before the incident, he explained in his 2018 book “Live Long and…What I Learned Along the Way” that he was nonetheless grief-stricken by the loss.

The Rise of Starfleet

Last week, President Trump unveiled the new logo for the United States Space Force, America’s newest branch of the military. Many are saying the logo looks suspiciously like the logo for the fictional Starfleet Command in the Star Trek entertainment universe.

Fellow Star Trek actor, George Takei, who played the character “Sulu” on the original series with Shatner, mocked the new logo for Space Force. After it was unveiled, Takei quickly tweeted:

‘Ahem. We are expecting some royalties from this..’

In his Washington Post opinion piece, Takei drew parallels between the Trump administration and a Star Trek episode called ‘Mirror, Mirror,’ where the USS Enterprise bridge crew find themselves in a parallel universe where ‘cruelty’ has replaced ‘diplomacy.’

The Fox News article is here.

 

A Phaser-Proof Prenuptial Agreement?

William Shatner, who is best known for starring as Enterprise captain James T. Kirk on the original Star Trek, has reached the final frontier of his marriage: he has filed for divorce from his wife of 18 years. News reports suggest the Captain and his First Mate previously entered into a prenuptial agreement. But will it be phaser-proof?

Phaserproof Prenup

Beam Me Up Scotty

Transmission of the news was received this week about the divorce filing, but some sources believe the divorce process had already been in the works for a while. Importantly TMZ noted that there was a prenup in place, the couple never had children together, and neither party is asking for spousal support. Observers are predicting a smooth divorce will be transported down to court fairly soon.

I was attracted by her beauty first of all, which was an old syndrome for me … and I think I lucked out because she had so many other qualities as well. Elizabeth has a great sense of humor and a great sense of adventure and she’s very nurturing. That combination of beauty, style, intelligence, humor and loving horses and dogs and children and loving her home and making a home for us, is quite a combination.

This marriage is not the Captain’s first voyage. Shatner’s wife, Elizabeth, 61, is his fourth, er sequel, in movie parlance.

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. 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 to explore the strange new worlds of 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.

Prenups can be the best captain at the helm . . . if they’re done right.

There are a galaxy of 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.

Warp Speed Ahead

The Shatners are still negotiating the financial terms, a source told the site TMZ.

‘Per the terms of the prenup, neither party will receive any support from the other.

The Captain has had a colorful love life previously that resulted in four marriages and three daughters. Shatner and Elizabeth Shatner married in February 2001. He was previously married to Gloria Rand, Marcy Lafferty and Nerine Kidd, and has three daughters, Melanie, Leslie and Lisabeth, with Rand. Elizabeth Shatner was previously wed to Michael Glenn Martin.

Sources said Shatner and Elizabeth are expected to soon submit their divorce documents for a final signature from a judge.

The TMZ article is here.

 

Extortion and Divorce in Malibu

Kurt Rappaport, a successful realtor in Malibu California, claims his Guess-model wife, Sarah Mutch, has been trying to get him to tear up their prenuptial agreement and pay her millions in the latest example of extortion and divorce.

Extortion and Divorce

Marital Point Doom

Rappaport filed for divorce from Canadian fashion model, Sarah Mutch, in February. In the new civil lawsuit, Rappaport alleges that after their $3 million wedding, Mutch began bitterly complaining about the terms of the prenup and demanded that he change the terms or “the marriage is over.”

The civil lawsuit goes on to allege when he refused to tear up the prenup, she went wild with his credit card, charging hundreds of thousands of dollars for various things.

The lawsuit also claims Mutch threatened that if he didn’t pay her bills, she would “release false information about him and his friends to the press and social media outlets.”

Rappaport filed a police report in April, detailing some of the alleged threats. According to the police report, obtained by TMZ, Rappaport says Mutch “threatened to fabricate a ‘Me Too’ sexual harassment report at the hands of his wealthy friends.”

He says she threatened to go to the media with the allegations if he didn’t give her “millions and millions of dollars.” He told cops she said, “If I don’t get what I want, I’m going to drop a bomb and end your career in a week!”

Rappaport says when he refused to put the property in her name or tear up the prenup during the marriage, she began berating him, calling him “selfish, cheap, greedy and disgusting.”

Florida Extortion and Divorce

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

There are several examples of how this happens in divorce. One which comes to mind, is taxes. It is not uncommon for spouses to threaten to report the other spouse to the IRS for underpayment of taxes unless money is paid to keep the silence.

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

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

Mutch Ado About Nothing?

Mutch filed legal documents, also purportedly obtained by TMZ, which claim she thought they would have children and realized he had no such intention. They got into a heated argument on the way home.

She also alleges when they got home, he began screaming at her, saying all she cared about was money and she was a “greedy monster.” She says she then told him she wanted a divorce.

The legal documents also have Mutch claiming there was a pattern of verbal abuse over a period of years, alleging Rappaport tried to slam through doors when she would lock herself away from his outbursts and that she never threatened him.

Mutch is seeking temporary attorneys’ fees to determine if she could challenge their prenuptial agreement – which reportedly gives her $45,000 a month for half the duration of the marriage. The marriage only lasted 16 months. She is also is seeking an award her temporary spousal support.

The TMZ article is here.

 

Prenups and Threats to Call Off the Wedding

With the wedding season upon us, people are increasingly demanding prenuptial agreements. But many are also asking what is required to get out of the prenup they just signed. For instance, how valid would a Venezuelan prenup be if there were threats to call off the wedding unless it was signed? A Florida court just answered that question.

Prenup Threats

Venezuelan Prenups

In the recent case, the couple planned to marry in Venezuela. But six days before their wedding, the husband presented the wife a draft of a prenuptial agreement in Venezuela. At the time, the wife was four months pregnant with their second child.

The only financial disclosures contained within the document were perfunctory references to the husband’s ownership of certain nominal non-convertible bearer shares with corresponding assigned nominal values.

Interestingly, the agreement did not provide for equitable distribution or alimony. The husband allowed the wife to peruse the document and then assured her that he would furnish full financial disclosures prior to the wedding.

But the day before the wedding, having not yet provided any financial documentation, the husband threatened to cancel the ceremony if the wife did not sign it.

The wife reluctantly signed the prenup and they got married. However, their marriage did not endure. Less than six years later, the husband filed dissolution proceedings in Miami.

The wife tried to invalidate the prenuptial agreement, contending it was the product of “duress, coercion, or overreaching,” and was unconscionable, as it had been executed in the absence of full and fair financial disclosure.

Following an evidentiary hearing, convened to determine the circumstances surrounding the execution of the agreement, the court entered an order. The following week, the parties were due to appear at the United States Embassy in Venezuela with their marriage certificate, in order to establish expatriation eligibility.

Several years later, the husband retained another attorney and sought to have the wife execute a postnuptial agreement, showing he believed the prenuptial agreement was unenforceable under Venezuelan law.

Even though the prenup was entered into by the parties in Venezuela, and Venezuelan law should govern its validity, both parties urged the application of Florida law.

The Florida trial court found the prenuptial agreement had been executed under duress and in the absence of both full financial disclosure and waiver of said disclosure. The husband appealed.

Florida Avoiding Prenups

I have written about prenuptial agreements in Florida before, especially avoiding them. Because of Florida’s policy of enforcing agreements, prenups and postnups can be difficult to void – but not impossible. Florida has both case law and a statute to help lawyers, judges and the parties determine if a prenuptial agreement, for example, is enforceable.

In Florida, to test the validity of a prenuptial agreement, courts must consider things such as fraud, duress, coercion, in addition to the unfairness of the agreement, and whether there was any financial disclosure.

Under Florida’s Uniform Premarital Agreement Act, a prenup may not be enforceable if a party can prove, in part, that it was not signed voluntarily; or was the product of fraud, duress, coercion, or overreaching; or it was unconscionable.

Some of these defenses may also require a party to show they were not given a fair and reasonable disclosure of property, and did not voluntarily and expressly waive that right, and did not have adequate knowledge of the property or financial obligations of the other party.

“No Agreement, No Wedding!”

In Florida, a premarital agreement is not enforceable if the party against whom enforcement is sought proves that the agreement was the product of fraud, duress, coercion, or overreaching.

But what is “duress”? Often, duress is defined as a condition of mind produced by an improper external pressure or influence that practically destroys your free agency and causes you to make a contract not of your own volition.

Proving duress is difficult, and requires showing the prenup was not free choice or will and this condition of mind was caused by some improper and coercive conduct of the opposite side.

In the Venezuelan case, the testimony established that the husband initially presented his pregnant wife with the disputed prenup six days before the wedding. At that time, the wife asked for evidence regarding his net worth. The husband assured the wife such evidence would be forthcoming.

But instead of honoring his pledge, the day before the wedding, the husband demanded she sign the prenup, with the added ultimatum of “no agreement, no wedding.”

However, it is not unusual for people to give an ultimatum that they will not marry their spouse without a prenuptial agreement. Ordinarily, the “no agreement no marriage” ultimatum does not constitute duress because there is nothing improper about taking such a position.

In the recent case though, the Husband also threatened life-altering consequences, by imperiling their shared, long-term plan to begin life anew with their children in the United States. The court found that these circumstances, which were unrebutted by the husband, were sufficient to support a finding of duress.

The opinion is available 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.

 

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.

 

Heartbreak Postnuptial Agreement

Lisa Marie Presley, daughter of rock legend Elvis Presley, is as happy as a ‘hound dog’. A judge in her divorce from Michael Lockwood recently ruled that her postnuptial agreement waiving alimony is valid.

postnuptial agreement

Are You Lonesome Tonight?

Although she is single, the daughter of music legend Elvis Presley is not without her riches. The family court ruling means she won’t have to pay her estranged husband spousal support, according to court papers obtained by TheWrap.

In an order handed down Aug. 17, a judge found that a 2007 post-nuptial agreement signed by Presley and Lockwood in which they waived spousal support in the event of a split, is valid.

The Wonder of Postnuptial Agreements

I’ve written about various marital agreements before. Postnups are written agreements signed after a couple gets married, or have entered a civil union, to settle the couple’s affairs and assets in the event of a separation or divorce.

Postnuptial agreements are enforceable in divorce cases. But, there are two separate grounds by which either spouse may challenge such an agreement and have it vacated or even modified.

First, a spouse may set aside or modify an agreement by establishing that it was reached under fraud, deceit, duress, coercion, misrepresentation, or overreaching.

The second ground to vacate a settlement agreement contains multiple elements. Initially, the challenging spouse must establish that the agreement makes an unfair or unreasonable provision for that spouse, given the circumstances of the parties.

To establish that an agreement is unreasonable, the challenging spouse must present evidence of the parties’ relative situations, including their respective ages, health, education, and financial status.

With this basic information, a family court judge may determine that the agreement, on its face, does not adequately provide for the challenging spouse and, consequently, is unreasonable.

In making this determination, the trial judge has to find that the agreement is “disproportionate to the means” of the defending spouse. This usually requires some evidence to establish a defending spouse’s financial means. Additional evidence may also be necessary.

Keep in mind that this standard for avoiding or modifying the agreement happens when a couple is not in the midst of litigation against each other. This does not govern marital settlement agreements entered into during the course of divorce litigation.

Return to Sender

According to the papers, the agreement was arrived at the year after Presley and Lockwood married, and before the couple’s twins were born.

The order purportedly said that the post-nuptial agreement stated that:

“in the event of a judgment of nullity, legal separation or dissolution of marriage, neither party shall be obligated to pay spousal support to the other.”

The court added that Lockwood didn’t read this because it didn’t interest him, but he signed documents containing that language, twice, initialing every page on the July 2007 copy, and his attorney “signed the November 2007 version.”

Viva las agreements. The Wrap article is here.