What ‘Brangelina’ can teach us about Prenuptial Agreements
Divorce can be one of the most devastating life experiences to go through, both emotionally and financially. Although it’s easy to think that you will never grow apart, we have seen the frustration and distress on our client’s faces when they realise the implications for not having signed a prenuptial agreement.
Regardless of how you feel about your other half, the most important thing is that you protect yourself, which is why we try to educate people about prenuptial agreements. They are not casting doom and gloom on the happy occasion of a wedding, they are merely there to provide peace of mind for an uncertain future.
Never is this more evident that with the recent case of Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie (nicknamed Brangelina). After over 10 years and six children together, Jolie filed for divorce in September, and with their personal lives spread across the headlines, one thing has become very clear – it is their “iron-clad prenup” that will save them the brunt of any financial pain, as it has already been set out in no uncertain terms, in the contract they signed before they wed.
What was in the Brangelina Prenup?
Pitt and Jolie certainly shouldn’t have any huge financial problems with the prenuptial agreement they both signed, after being heavily advised by their lawyers to do so. Despite the fact that they have been together for 12 years, the pair were only married for two, and according to reports, the ironclad agreement details the specifics of their combined fortune of over $400 million.
Brangelina have 12 total properties, although most of these were bought prior to the two marrying, or even dating. Seven belong to Pitt, two were purchased by Jolie, which leaves three properties they bought together prior to their marriage in 2014. These include a vineyard in France, a mansion in New Orleans and an apartment in New York.
It is unclear at this stage what will happen to the three properties, in particular the winery, which of course also functions as a business. They have not yet begun splitting assets, but we can assume that there are three options available: they can sell and liquidate it, one can buy out the other, or they could continue to share the property and profits.
All three options are possible, but Pitt has supposedly taken more interest in the winery over the years. As we have stated in other posts, it is important to try and remain amicable during the separation, so that both parties receive the best outcome possible. Should Pitt have a strong attachment to the property given his passion for it, this should hopefully be taken into consideration when the assets are split. In any case, these are also the options that would be open to any couple in a divorce circumstance.
Before trading vows, the pair also made it clear that Jolie would be awarded primary custody of their six children, should Pitt leave her for someone else or adultery be proven. It is also detailed in the contract that each party would go their separate ways with the millions they brought into the marriage. Anything they earned as a married couple would be funnelled into a trust for their children, where the money will be evenly divided six ways – none of the couple’s post-marriage earnings would go to Pitt, Jolie or a subsequent partner.
When are they useful? The Pros and Cons of Prenups
With such a high-powered couple thrown into the spotlight, it is easy to see their similarities with all couples – the worry and concern over protecting their children, the wish to reach a fair result, and the need to protect their own livelihood. Another element of prenuptial agreements that is clear here is that they had many different aspects of the marriage detailed within it.
Pitt and Jolie discussed a trust fund for their children, the division of property, adultery and who knows what other clauses, and it’s important to understand that any couple can discuss their relationship in such terms as a means of protecting themselves. If you’re wondering if a prenuptial agreement is right for you, just take a look at some of their pros and cons…
- Agreeing on the financial split avoids complexity, unnecessary stress, as well as saving time and money
- If your partner has significant debts, this contract can help ensure that your assets are protected from satisfying those debts
- They give you the chance to clarify and protect your assets, as well as identify property ownership
- You can ring-fence assets to ensure children from a previous marriage are cared for
- Although you can’t plan for the future, you can establish procedures for certain future circumstances
- If there is a business involved, you can prevent disruption to it by stipulating a private business as an asset
- You will likely be hurt and upset during a divorce, and your decision-making will undoubtedly be affected. Having a prenup in place means that you already have a clear document to follow which you arranged when calm
- Think about your financial position within the relationship; these contracts can make one party financially vulnerable or weaker
- Requesting a prenuptial agreement could upset your soon-to-be partner, and you could be seen as untrusting or planning for failure
- What are you planning in the near future? Changes in circumstances could mean the contract loses relevance. For example, young couples may not plan for children, or one party may give up their career for the betterment of the marriage and in years’ time, this could harm them financially and the previous agreement could be unfair. This is where review clauses are a good idea
- If one party waivers inheritance rights but the spouse dies whilst married, this could harm them financially
- Despite such contracts being enforceable in the UK, they can still be thrown out of court. If there are assets that haven’t been disclosed, undervalued or if the agreement contains provisions that are unconscionable, it will not stand up in court.
In the same way that you have car insurance or home insurance, a prenuptial agreement is not put in place because you’re expecting the worst to happen. You don’t plan on crashing your car or trashing your home; they are safeguards for protection during those stressful times, and a prenuptial agreement is exactly the same.
We are experts in family law, and whether you’re engaged and thinking of putting a prenuptial agreement in place, or if your partner wants to divorce and you have no idea where to start, we are here for you. The most important thing is to seek legal advice as soon as possible, so don’t hesitate to get in touch. You can call us on 020 7381 8111, or email us at [email protected].
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