Fighting the Prenup: Kevin Costner’s Case
Hollywood icon, Kevin Costner, surely never imagined that the “ironclad” prenuptial agreement he and estranged wife Christine Baumgartner signed almost twenty years ago wouldn’t hold water! But now that Baumgartner has filed for divorce, she’s challenging the prenup with a focus on the terms of her living arrangements, what she can take from the couple’s home, and custody issues.
Why Have a Prenup?
While some believe having a prenuptial agreement signals a lack of commitment and confidence in the relationship, there are those who’ve signed them who believe prenups are the logical way to enter marriage, whether there’s a lot of money involved or not. And the discussion around a prenup needn’t be contentious. For example, Catherine Zeta-Jones says negotiating a prenuptial agreement with longtime spouse Michael Douglass was free of malice or argument. She contends that, given her age and financial status at the time of their 2000 wedding , it made perfect sense for Douglas to protect the financial empire he’d built long before she arrived in his life.
Many think a prenup is a good way for couples to address financial issues before the wedding day, giving both partners clear expectations going forward. These agreements can protect spouses from one another’s debt in the event of a divorce, in addition to ensuring financial stability and protecting assets accrued prior to and even during the marriage. For some couples the conversation may be difficult, but isn’t it better to experience that challenge before tying the knot?
Problems That Could Arise
One divorce attorney known to work with celebrity splits, notes that specific types of clauses in prenuptial agreements can lead to heartache if a couple decides to split and expects the document to solve the issues that come with divorce. Certain issues some couples demand to include in a prenup simply cannot be enforced down the road. For example, a stipulation that a partner must maintain one’s weight and fitness level, a commitment to having sex on a defined schedule, or a promise to refrain from having extramarital affairs, are all outside the realm of enforceability. Including them in prenups can result in invalidating the entire agreement. Additionally, commitments related to child custody may not be upheld if contested when included in a prenup.
Making Sure Your Prenup is Upheld
Why engage in the effort to create a prenuptial agreement if it winds up falling apart when you really need it? Any divorce judge may question the agreement’s validity if both parties do not have their own legal counsel representing them throughout the process. Additionally, a judge will want to know that each person who signed the document fully understood the terms of the agreement, and they acted of their own free will. Other issues of import when a prenuptial agreement is challenged include:
- Evidence of dishonesty related to one or both individuals’ financial status;
- Indications that one person pressured the other into signing: (If it’s signed just before the wedding day, it could be a clue that it was a last minute sign or else cancel the wedding maneuver).
An Agreement that Works
At WiseLieberman our experienced Boca Raton family law attorneys understand the reasons couples choose to enter prenuptial agreements and know who to write a document that will stand the test of time. To discuss, schedule a confidential consultation in our Boca Raton office today.