Okay. So maybe a prenuptial agreement isn’t the first thing that pops into your head when you think of love and marriage – but maybe it should be. With divorce rates as high as they have ever been, there is a very real possibility your (future) marriage will end in divorce. Ooooh. I said the unthinkable. You’re in love, right? Nothing can ever come between you, right? Well, guess what? Statistics are against you.
If your marriage does not pan out the way you envisioned, the divorce process can get ugly. Emotions fly. Tempers flare. People say things they wouldn’t normally say. And, as an added bonus, people get seemingly overly possessive of things. “You want the neon beer light? No, it’s mine!” (I have actually heard this example).
The things people acquire during the marriage or even had prior to the marriage are now up for grabs in the divorce process. Who gets what? Will it be fair? What will happen to the land I inherited from my father’s side of the family?
When these things are at issue, you will likely pay someone like me to find the answers. This can get very expensive. More importantly, though, the cost associated with finding these answers during the divorce process is typically much more expensive than it would have been to simply sit down with your fiancé and make some decisions regarding the “D” word prior to your marriage.
Contrary to what most people think, sitting down with a fiancé prior to the marriage ceremony to discuss a prenuptial agreement does not need to be confrontational and/or hostile. In fact, it can be and should be discussed like any other business transaction. When thinking of a prenuptial agreement in this way, emotions can be set aside and logic can drive the train.
If logic prevails, and both parties (presumably) still care for one another, the results of the prenuptial agreement can be much more equitable than a decision rendered by a court. I am not saying that the judicial system is unfair. What I am saying is your particular judge may never know just how important a particular asset was to you when trying to cram a 20-year marriage into an 8-hour trial. In other words, if you enter into a prenuptial agreement, you get to control your own fate rather than leaving it in the hands of a stranger.
When you have control, you can get creative. People can decide what happens to their income, assets, and debts under all sorts of scenarios. But don’t take my word for it, just look at what these celebrities allegedly did in their prenuptial agreements (I stress allegedly):
- Ice-T and Coco: If these two ever get divorced, Ice-T gets possession of Coco’s breast and butt implants.
- Charlie Sheen and Brooke Mueller: In a rather long prenup (apparently 60 pages) Charlie would give up $300,000 for every year the couple was married, “a stake” in Charlie’s Beverly Hills Mansion, and $500,000 within 180 days of the divorce.
- Kim Kardashian and Kanye West: If this couple splits Kanye will need to fork out $1 million for every year they were married, the Bel Air mansion and any presents he gives to her during the marriage. As an added bonus, for Kim, Kanye must maintain a $20 million life insurance policy naming Kim as the beneficiary.
- Liz Taylor and Larry Fortensky: Larry needed to stay married to Liz for 5 years if he were to receive a $1 million payout. Guess what? The marriage lasted exactly 5 years!
- Greg Liebl, uh-hu, I mean Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie: In this prenuptial agreement, they allegedly decided that Angelina would be the primary custodian of the kids. This seems doubtful, not because Angelina is a bad person, but because this doesn’t seem enforceable. I don’t know which state this was entered into, but this type of prenuptial agreement would not cut the mustard in North Dakota.
- Catherine Zeta-Jones and Michael Douglas: This prenuptial agreement gives Catherine $2.8 million upon divorce, apparently with no reference as to the length of the marriage. However, this prenuptial agreement has a “cheating clause” in it, which would allow Catherine $5 million dollars if Michael were to ever cheat on her. As a side note, and as a practical problem for Catherine, she, of course, would have to prove this to be the case, which is not always easy.
- Keith Urban and Nicole Kidman: Keith is entitled to $640,000 for every year of marriage… as long as he never uses drugs again.
- Jessica Simpson and Tony Romo: In addition to being a questionable quarterback, apparently, Tony is not a nice person. Tony apparently requested a provision in the prenuptial agreement that prevented Jessica from becoming “fat.” In this regard, if Jessica weighed more than 135 pounds during the marriage, Tony would get $500,000 for every extra pound she gained. Booooo!
Some of the more unfortunate celebrities include Steven Spielberg in his marriage to Amy Irving and Roseanne Barr in her marriage to Tom Arnold. Steven decided it would be a good idea to write his prenuptial agreement down on a napkin. Guess what happened there? Roseanne decided, like a lot of Americans, she was too in love to obtain a prenuptial agreement. When her marriage ended she paid Tom Arnold $50 million. Later Roseanne apparently said that she and Tom did not sign a prenuptial agreement, they signed a mutual suicide pact.
While it is fun to hear what the celebrities have done, or not done, with their prenuptial agreements, it is really a serious matter that can help “regular folks” like you and me from potentially damaging our financial futures.
The bottom line here is not to be like Steven Spielberg, and especially, Roseanne Barr. Get a prenuptial agreement. Contact our Family Law Team at 701-297-2890 if you have any questions regarding a prenuptial or premarital agreement and how we can help you to not be like Roseanne Barr.