Stars Without Prenups and the Divorces that Follow
Michael Jordan. Madonna. Tiger Woods. Alec Baldwin. Rupert Murdoch. Mel Gibson. What do all of these individuals have in common? Yes, they are all famous celebrities. Yes, they are all worth millions upon millions of dollars, perhaps even billions. However, what likely does not come to mind is the fact that all of these famous faces wed without having their significant other sign a prenup. While the idea of planning for your divorce before you even walk down the aisle is hardly romantic, the cold hard truth is that many marriages end in divorce. According to the Pennsylvania Department of Health, 36,345 marriages ended in a divorce or annulment in 2012 in Pennsylvania alone. While no one marries expecting that they will divorce, entering into a prenuptial agreement can serve to protect your assets in the event your marriage eventually breaks down. Mel Gibson had to pony up an estimated $300 million to his wife when their divorce was finalized. However, that hardly compares to the $1.7 billion dollars Rupert Murdoch lost to his ex-wife, Anna when their marriage ended. Had these stars had the foresight to enter into a prenup, they may have salvaged millions of dollars of their personal fortunes.
What exactly is a prenup? A prenuptial agreement is a contract entered into by a couple in anticipation of an upcoming marriage. While child custody and child support are not issues to be covered in a prenup, entering into a prenup can be an effective way of dealing with the division of assets and debts and spousal support and alimony. There are many reasons why one may want their future spouse to sign a prenup. One spouse may be pursuing an advanced degree and the couple may want a prenup to outline how this debt will be allocated in the event of a divorce.
One spouse may have an interest in a family business they want to protect. One of the most common reasons couples enter into prenup is when one spouse enters the marriage with a much higher net worth than the other. A prenup can be an effective way to protect one’s wealth.
Although a prenup is a contract and is presumed to be valid and enforceable, a prenup must be carefully drafted by an experienced attorney to avoid any problems. A prenup may be set aside if the spouse seeking to invalidate it can prove fraud, duress, or coercion, or if he or she can show that the other spouse did not provide a full and fair disclosure of their assets and/or liabilities when the agreement was entered into and no waiver of disclosure was executed.