Recent headlines announced that Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos’ 25-year marriage is ending. He and his wife are the wealthiest couple in the world with a net worth of approximately $137 billion, and reportedly never signed a prenup. It’s also reported that when pop star Justin Bieber married model Hailey Baldwin in New York City last fall, they decided to forgo a prenuptial agreement as well. He’s reportedly worth more than $265 million, while her net worth is several million dollars.
We understand Jeff and Mackenzie Bezos are planning to divorce in a non-adversarial and collaborative manner, which is great news for them personally, as well as their four children. If Justin and Hailey ever divorce, we certainly hope they take the same route.
High net worth individuals, not just celebrities, often have complicated assets to value and distribute in the event of their divorces, including, businesses, complicated deferred compensation packages, private investments, assets held in trust, artworks, and more. By entering into a prenuptial agreement before marriage, couples have a contractual opportunity to discuss their assets and finances before the wedding and determine what will happen in the case of death or divorce.
When you divorce in New York without a prenuptial agreement, the law of equitable distribution is used to guide how property is divided, Additionally, there are guidelines for child support and spousal maintenance. If you want a judge to make these decisions for you, she or he will be bound by these laws. If you choose to use the mediation or collaborative law process, you and your spouse will have more flexibility and creativity to decide what is right for your family.
What You Can Do If You Don’t Have a Prenup
If you are married and do not have a prenuptial agreement, there are still options for you and your spouse to contractually agree on asset distribution in the case of divorce or death. A postnuptial agreement can be negotiated between you and your spouse. A postnuptial agreement is a contract entered into by married couples that provides terms that will how to divide assets, the relinquishment of certain property rights to which they would otherwise be entitled, and the terms for spousal support and child support. Learn more in my article, 6 Reasons Postnuptial Agreements Are Gaining Popularity.
If you don’t know whether a postnup is right for you or you don’t know how to raise the topic with your spouse, we suggest meeting with a family lawyer to discuss the options available to you to provide you with the security you need, and the best strategy in your unique situation.
Contact us if you’d like to discuss prenuptial agreements, postnuptial agreements and options available for your marriage and family.
Over the past few years, my law and mediation practice has seen a significant increase in requests for prenuptial agreements. A recent New York Times article The Rise of the Millennial Prenup cites the following contributing factors for the increase: millennials are marrying later, they are bringing more assets to the marriage and more women are in the workforce.
Learn More: How To Write a Prenuptial Agreement: Checklist