Who Should Have a Prenuptial Agreement?

Mariah Carey’s Prenuptial Agreement

            Most people know Mariah Carey as one of the world’s biggest divas.  Her prenuptial negotiations with James Packer definitely helped her live up to this stereotype. 

            The prenuptial negotiations between the superstar and the Australian businessman were extremely outrageous – even for Hollywood.  Allegedly, Carey was initially offered $1 million a year for each full year of marriage, but her managers refused this offer outright.  Finally, Packer countered with terms that provided for Carey to receive $6 million per year (or $151,385 per week) up to a maximum of $30 million.  The pre-nuptial document also stated that Carey would get a credit card, but it could only be used for living and staff expenses, and not clothes.  Additionally, there would be no joint bank accounts between Carey and Packer and Carey and her children would not inherit any money from Packer.  Additionally, Packer would only allow Carey to use one private jet for herself, her staff, her children, and their respective nannies. 

            Ultimately, the provisions of this prenuptial agreement caused a lot of tension and Carey and Packer ended up calling off the engagement. 

 

Do “Normal” People Need Prenuptial Agreements Too?

            It is common to hear about the outrageous prenuptial agreements between celebrities, but do middle class individuals need these types of agreements as well? In Virginia, prenuptial agreements can also be referred to as "premarital agreements".  Whether to enter into a prenuptial agreement is a very personal decision.  To understand the full scope of the laws around these agreements, refer to Virginia Code sections § 20-147 to 155.  Each individual and each couple is unique, and therefore it is important to base your decision on your unique circumstances.  While every couple is different and has different viewpoints, experienced family law Attorney Van Smith recommends that all business owners, people re-marrying, couples with children at the time of marriage, or extremely wealthy couples consider prenuptial agreements. 

            In order to determine if a prenuptial agreement is right for you and your spouse, it is important to evaluate the pros and cons of this type of agreement. 

 

Pros of a Prenuptial Agreement

  • A prenuptial agreement can help document each spouse’s separate property in order to protect it as separate property in case of a divorce later on.
  • An agreement before marriage can help support an estate plan and avoid court involvement to decide property distribution.
  • A prenuptial agreement will document and detail special arrangements between spouses
  • This type of agreement can assign debt (credit cards, school loans, mortgages, etc…) to the appropriate spouse in order to avoid both spouses sharing debt liability.

Cons of a Pre-Nuptial Agreement

  • Creating a prenuptial agreement with your soon-to-be spouse is not romantic. 
  • A prenuptial agreement cannot include child support or child custody issues. 
  • A court can set aside any provisions it finds to be unfair or not in the interest of justice. 

 

While the pros and cons listed above apply to many couples, it is important for you and your significant other to evaluate your own personal pros and cons.  Call (804) 325-1245 or (757) 941-4298 to speak with an attorney at Smith Strong about whether a prenuptial agreement is right for you.  

H. Van Smith
Trusted Virginia Family Law Attorney Serving Richmond to Williamsburg