Prenuptial agreements are a great way to protect yourself in case your marriage does not work out. This is certainly true if you or your spouse earn a lot of money. Earlier this year, movie stars Chris Pratt and Anna Faris announced that they would be separating after eight years of marriage. However, the couple seems to have recently postponed any concrete plans to divorce. Many experts in the entertainment industry believe that this may be because the pair does not have a prenuptial agreement.
What Is a Prenuptial Agreement?
A prenuptial agreement is a private contract between two people who intend on getting married. California is a community property state. This means that when a couple gets divorced, each is entitled to an equal amount of any community property they owned. Community property includes almost anything that is acquired during a marriage. This can include W2 wages and income, accrued employee benefits, self-employment income, dividends, interest, personal property, real property, vehicles, and more.
Many couples will draft and sign a prenuptial agreement in order to:
- Assign the ownership of certain community property to one spouse;
- Require the sale of certain assets or property in a divorce; or
- Divide property in an equitable, rather than equal, way.
A prenuptial agreement is effective from the date the couple is married. The terms and conditions both partners agreed to will be enforced if they get a divorce.
The Role of a Prenuptial Agreement in a California Divorce
Why would the lack of a prenuptial agreement keep Chris Pratt and Anna Faris from filing for a divorce? Since the couple got married eight years ago their collective wealth has grown exponentially. Eight years ago Chris Pratt was just beginning to make a name for himself as Andy Dwyer on Parks and Recreation. Eight years ago Anna Faris was a hard-working actress with several minor television and movie roles to her name. Today, Chris Pratt is a world-renowned movie star and Anna Faris is the lead on one of CBS’ most popular sitcoms. The wealth they have accumulated over these past eight years is probably substantial.
If they divorce today – without a prenup – Pratt and Faris would each be entitled to half of their marital assets. This is true regardless of how much spouse has contributed to their overall marital wealth. As a movie star, Chris Pratt has probably earned a great deal more than his tv-star wife. Despite the fact that his income is probably the bulk of their community property, Pratt would only be entitled to half. This could be a factor in his hesitance to get a divorce at this time.
Using a Prenuptial Agreement to Determine Alimony
Some couples may use a prenuptial agreement to detail how alimony payments can and will be made. This can be helpful if a divorce is particularly emotional. Most prenuptial agreements regarding alimony payments will be upheld if the partners were:
- Of similar education and intelligence;
- Financially self-sufficient prior to the marriage; and
- Aware of the entirety of the circumstances surrounding the agreement.
Prenuptial agreements cannot, however, be used to punish one spouse for certain behavior. California is a no-fault jurisdiction. The state does not impose penalties upon one spouse for “causing” a divorce. Similarly, one spouse cannot “punish” another by withholding alimony in a prenuptial agreement.
Many celebrity couples use prenuptial agreements to limit the amount of alimony one spouse will have to pay out to another spouse if they divorce. In this case, if Anna Faris and Chris Pratt do not have a prenuptial agreement with an alimony provision, alimony could be a deterrent for Pratt. If Pratt earned more than Faris, she could arguably ask him to continue to pay her after a divorce so that she could continue to live the life to which they had grown accustomed. Since Pratt and Faris were likely earning similar amounts prior to their marriage, they could have stipulated that neither spouse, regardless of future income or celebrity status, would be required to pay alimony if they divorced.
Prenuptial Agreements Becoming More Common
Couples used to be hesitant to sign prenuptial agreements. They would argue that signing a prenup showed a lack of faith in their relationship. However, prenuptial agreements are becoming more common amongst young couples. This could be due, in part, to the fact that many couples are waiting until later in life to get married. These older individuals have more wealth and income and, in turn, more of a desire to protect those assets.
Maybe Chris Pratt and Anna Faris just really believed in their future together. Maybe they do have a prenuptial agreement and are trying to reconcile for the sake of their five-year-old son, Jack. If and when Faris and Pratt get divorced it will be interesting to see how their marital assets are actually divided.
If you are interested in learning more about prenuptial agreements, you need a divorce lawyer in Los Angeles with a reputation you can trust. Call today for a free consultation.