News of Adele’s impending divorce from her husband Simon Konecki was a surprise to many, and many more were surprised that the star and her husband had not signed a pre-nuptial agreement. Under California law, Konecki may be entitled to up to half of the singer’s earnings from the time they were married. If they choose to file in California, where they own significant property and Konecki has an office for his company, the pair might have to split everything evenly. Adele has already gifted Konecki a property worth over $600,000, which some see as an indication that the split may be amicable. Adele herself said in a Vanity Fair interview that money is “not that important a part of my life.”
The lack of a pre-nup may seem unusual in the cynical climate of Hollywood’s almost contractual atmosphere surrounding relationships and even marriage. There is a perception that pre-nups are a fact of life, and that all wealthy people have them. In fact, only around 5% of married couples have pre-nups, and only 15% of divorcees say they regret not having had one. There are obvious caveats – Steven Spielberg found out the hard way that pre-nuptial agreements need to be an actual legal document, a literal back-of-the-napkin mistake that cost him a $100 million settlement. Both sides need appropriate counsel and a thorough accounting of their assets, which can make the cost of a pre-nup financially impractical for some.
The other side of the debate over pre-nups is emotional, grounded in a perception that such a document, or even the desire to sign one, is inviting the relationship to fail, tempting fate, or making it easier to get out of. It can even be seen as an indication that there is no trust in the relationship. The reality is, a pre-nup is an important legal tool, one which can be used to protect family assets, ease transitions, and hold individuals accountable. In a climate where up to 50% of marriages end in divorce, a pre-nup can be invaluable.