How Prenups Can Help Prevent High Divorce Costs
Divorce happens to all kinds of people, even to Hollywood A-listers. And things can get very messy when large amounts of money and property are at stake, as the recent and increasingly acrimonious divorce exploits of Ben Affleck and his soon-to-be-ex-wife Jennifer Garner show.
The divorce could end up costing the couple millions of dollars, as well as a lot of unpleasant publicity and attention for them and their children.
High profile divorces are the stuff of dreams for gossip column writers, but what needs to be remembered is that at the heart of every juicy story are real people going through real emotions and real heartache.
A separation that descends into a battle over material assets and money can go on for years, causing irreparable harm to family relationships between couples and their children. For the not-so rich and famous, a divorce means exactly the same heartache and problems, and the same financial tussles – only on a smaller scale.
How to avoid the fighting in the first place
‘Ben and Jen’ could have avoided a protracted conflict with one simple piece of paper – a pre-nuptial agreement. This is also just as relevant for non-Hollywood stars as it is for the rich and famous. If you have interests that you want to protect in the event of a separation or break-up then it’s important to define them clearly and ‘ringfence’ them from the outset.
However, this doesn’t mean that you’re going into a relationship already expecting it to fail. It merely means that you are protecting your interests in what is a very unpredictable world. And if, like Ben, your assets run into the millions, then that protection is vital. Today, pre-nuptial agreements are commonplace, and ensure that if the worst does happen then the resulting break-up doesn’t descend into a tit-for-tat round of fighting over the last penny. It can also save a small (or in Ben’s case, a very large) fortune in solicitors’ fees.
Do prenups cover everything?
Unfortunately, no. Because pre-nuptials are not technically ‘legally binding’ or recognised in law, you are not forced to reveal all your assets when working out a pre-nup. This can, however, cause problems later on, especially if your partner finds out about any assets you have ‘tucked away’. Those undisclosed assets could also be vulnerable in any resulting divorce agreement if they haven’t been covered by a pre-nup.
Too little, too late?
In recent months there have been reports of cases where ex-spouses return to court to try and secure a new settlement. In one case, an ex-spouse went to court to sue for half of the estate of her ex-husband who, after they had separated and divorced (quite amicably at the time) then went on to develop a business that 30 year’s later was worth millions.
The judge awarded her some recourse, but what this case did was worry many people that even after three decades an ‘ex’ could pop up out of the woodwork and attempt to claim half of their assets. While this probably will never be a problem for most of us, those who go on to make their fortune are always worried that they could be subject to a claim on their assets by a former partner or spouse.
How to protect yourself and your assets
Apart from pre-nuptial agreements, there is very little you can do to protect your assets from future claims. If a partnership does break down and large amounts of money could be at stake, you need to talk to a legal expert sooner rather than later.
At Co-op Legal Services, our Family Solicitors are experts in dealing with divorce settlements, both when pre-nups are a factor and when there are no financial agreements in place. If you’re worried that a divorce could leave you financially stripped or you feel that you may be entitled to a settlement, then talk to us today for expert advice in complete confidence.
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