April 12, 2013

The benefits of putting a pre-nup on your wedding list

The glamorous lifestyles of the rich and famous may seem far removed from the lives of the rest of us but just occasionally we can learn a lesson from celebrities.

“Ghost” actress Demi Moore and her former husband actor Ashton Kutcher are cases in point. Ms Moore is the most recent Hollywood star contesting for a substantial divorce settlement. Sixteen months after splitting with her younger husband, she has filed papers seeking financial support from her ex.

When the couple married in 2005 Ms Moore’s celebrity status – and earning power – was higher than Kutcher’s.  As the pair didn’t sign a pre-nuptial agreement, Ms Moore is now allegedly seeking a considerable settlement from her former husband, whose income escalated during their marriage. Kutcher is reported to be worth $100 million – apparently substantially more than Ms Moore. As well as his contracts for film work, Kutcher made canny investments in booming internet start-up companies, including Skype and Foursquare.

Some might speculate about why a then-successful Hollywood actress rejected the idea of entering into a pre-nuptial agreement with the relatively unknown actor. Perhaps, like many brides-to-be, Demi Moore found the idea of a pre-marital arrangement unromantic or unnecessary.

And it’s not just brides who shy away from them – Paul McCartney famously married for the third time in 2011 without a pre-nuptial.  After his disastrous spilt from second wife Heather Miles many people were surprised by his decision to dispense with any formal pre-marital arrangement when he walked Nancy Shevell up the aisle.

Money and assets acquired before and during a marriage can become ammunition when a couple splits. With the average wedding in the UK now costing £22,000 saying “I do” is a massive investment. We take out insurance policies for our homes, our holidays and even our pets – so why not a pre-marital agreement as insurance in case a marriage breaks down?

Five reasons why making pre-nuptial agreements part of wedding preparations could be a sensible option.

  1. They help to manage expectations about finances and encourage open discussions about how each of you manage finances
  2. They can be valuable in agreeing solutions about finance before a problem crops up and may prevent costly litigation bills in the long run
  3. They are key if one or both of you have substantial assets or property that could be difficult to divide
  4. They help to safeguard assets or inheritance for children from a previous marriage
  5. They clarify matters if you expect to inherit a substantial amount of money or property

What are your thoughts on pre-nups? Leave a comment below, tweet us @HelpWithDivorce or e-mail us here.