Articles Posted in Prenuptial Agreements

NEW ORLEANS — The Louisiana Supreme Court has determined that there is a time-related element involved in the ratification of prenuptial agreements.

In a decision filed on May 3, Justice Marcus Clark ruled that under Louisiana Civil Code Article 2331, proper acknowledgment of the parties’ signatures on the prenuptial agreement is required and the failure to make such acknowledgments prior to the marriage invalidates the agreement.

The plaintiff in the case, Danielle Deon Dickerson Acurio married Dr. Michael Thomas Acurio in 1998, but the couple divorced in 2000. Two years later, in 2002, the couple married again, but this time entered into a prenuptial agreement.

A decade after Alicia Stephenson left the 30,000-square-foot home she shared with her multimillionaire husband on a 180-acre northwest suburban estate, a divorce judge soon could decide whether she is entitled to $400,000 a month in living expenses.

Stephenson has argued she needs that much money to live the privileged lifestyle to which she had become accustomed during her marriage to Richard Stephenson, founder of Cancer Treatment Centers of America.

Alicia Stephenson, who argues she was an integral part of her husband’s business success, also is seeking millions of dollars from various trusts and entities established during the marriage. And she wants to reclaim a Porsche she received as a wedding present and other luxury items.

In Vakharwala v Vakharwala, a Supreme Court of Georgia case came up upon appeal. The issues that the husband appealed were orders of attorney fees, child custody modification and spousal support.  In addition, there was a prenuptial agreement the parties entered into prior to marriage. Mr. Vakharwala disputed the amount of attorney fees that were to be awarded to the wife.  He disputed the reason they were awarded and if they were the proper amount. In the prenuptial agreement the parties entered into prior to the marriage it stated that the parties waived any financial aid from the other party for spousal support. Therefore, Mr. Vakharwala appealed the attorney fee award to his wife during the divorce proceedings.  The appellate Court ruled in his favor as a result.  However, interestingly their ruling was based on the prenuptial agreement which waived spousal support.  A Georgia statute made it clear that attorney fees were often used as spousal support and were “intrinsic” to it function.  Normally, according to Georgia Code sections attorney fees are part of Spousal support.  Therefore any award to to a party of attorney fees was in fact spousal support.  So Mr. Vakharwala prevailed on appeal based on this Georgia statute. The wife should not have received the $60,000 in attorney fees because she had already received a temporary order for spousal support.

In California family Court besides awarding attorney fees as a sanction the attorney fees can be awarded as a way to help a divorce litigant hire an attorney when the other party is also represented by counsel during the divorce. This is a common practice in divorce proceedings to create a level playing field for all divorce parties.

The Court also did at the same time award wife sanctions for the husbands conduct that abused the discovery process and delayed the divorce proceedings.  Thus the wife prevailed in getting attorney fees through the other Georgia statute enabling a party to be awarded monetarily for the abuse of the court system by the other party.  Any prenuptial agreement that stated that there was a a waive of attorney fees under a normal setting would be ignored in this scenario.

It should not be the point of a prenuptial agreement to avoid all financial responsibility to the other spouse.  As the family law code sections are abundantly clear about is that they do not want the spouse who is not on the receiving end of the prenuptial agreement and stands not to benefit at all from the prenuptial agreement that fairness is the key.  The family law Code is clear that is wants equity and fairness in the protection of marital assets.  Although a party can contract away their assets and debts through the prenuptial agreement it is vital to the integrity of the family law judicial system the one party does not blindside another less fortunate party and take off with all the loot.

California legislature has codified these prenuptial statutes under family code section 1612(c) and section 1615 that unconscionability and independent legal representation are a mandate to making an enforceable prenuptial agreement. One party cannot unduly take advantage of another party through one sided and lopsided contracts that give the other party nothing while the other party hauls away all the money.  If both parties and more importantly the party who has the assets to protect can enter the prenuptial setting with an open mind to make the contract fair and equitable that party will avoid unnecessary litigation down the road.  People, however, often enter these prenuptial agreements with a greedy mindset and try either to outsmart or blatantly take all the assets away from the other party.  This leads to an obvious disparity in the contractual agreement and creates a huge public policy concern.

That is the reason that an independent legal counsel is almost mandatory for the legitimacy of the prenuptial agreement to work.  Without the independent legal counsel for the party not receiving a financial gain at the outcome of the prenuptial agreement would create innumerable unconscionable agreements that would be too easy to enter into and create too many unequally bargained contracts.

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If you are looking to get a Prenuptial Agreement completed before the wedding day, please do not wait until the last minute.  Really.  You don’t want to jeopardize your marriage in the event of a divorce. Make sure you alot plenty of time to get a prenuptial agreement prepared. I would recommend doing your research and getting some drafted at least 3 months in advance.  With that said let’s talk about timelines with respect to prenuptial agreements.

Pursuant to Family Code Section 1615(c)(2), it requires that a party against whom enforcement of a prenuptial agreement is sought have at least 7 calendar days “between the time that the party was first presented with the agreement and advised to seek legal independent legal counsel and the time the agreement was signed”. Basically, it means the person whom you want the prenuptial agreement to be enforced against must have at least 7 calendar days from the time he/she is presented with the agreement and asked to find a lawyer through the time the agreement is signed.

This rule is not applicable to a party that was already represented by counsel from the outset of the transaction.  Marriage of Cadwell0Faso & Faso (2011) 191 CA4th 945.

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You are planning to get married but have separate property assets to protect or want to limit the amount of spousal support or alimony to be paid to your spouse in the event of a Orange County California divorce.  Well, a prenuptial agreement may be the answer.  Here a few tips to keep in mind when deciding whether a prenuptial agreement is right for you.

  1.  A prenuptial agreement must be in writing and signed by both parties.
  2. A prenuptial agreement becomes enforceable on marriage and thereafter may be amended or revoked only by a written agreement signed by the parties.

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If you are planning on getting married any time soon and have separate property assets that you would like to protect, we recommend that you look into preparing a Prenuptial Agreement.  A prenuptial agreement is an iron clad agreement that guards your potential spouse from seeking any community property interest in any separate property or potential community property that you may accumulate during the marriage.  So, for example, if you have a business that you acquired before marriage and are concerned that the business will increase in value during the marriage but do not want your potential spouse to get any interest in the business in the unfortunate event of a divorce, a prenuptial agreement will be your best bet protect you.

Additionally, if you want to limit your spousal support or alimony exposure in the event of a divorce, a California prenuptial agreement will also be a tool you may want to consider.  In California, if you are married for ten years or more, you could potentially be setting yourself up for a payout of lifetime support (there are some caveats).  On the flip side, if you are married for less than ten years, your exposure to spousal support is for one-half of the length of the marriage.

Call me today if you have any questions on Prenuptial Agreements in California. I am happy to help!

The prenuptial agreement between Deion and Pilar Sanders will stand. The arbitrator in their divorce confirmed both of them signed the agreement.

Pilar Sanders’ attorneys claimed the document was partially forged. The ruling settles the division of property between the estranged couple as spelled out in the agreement.

A Collin County judge also ruled Deion Sanders does not have to pay any more child support, that’s because a jury ruled the couple will have joint conservatorship of their daughter and he would be the sole conservator of their two sons.

A prenuptial agreement is a practical approach to protect assets acquired in the past and after the marriage. In the event things do not work out, a well-drafted prenup can help avoid a contentious split and costly litigation.

So when might a prenuptial agreement be a good idea? Consider the following questions in making a determination about whether a prenuptial agreement might be right for you:

Do you have significant assets that you are concerned about keeping if your marriage does not survive?

Former UM standout and Super Bowl hero Jeremy Shockey has decided to end his marriage — just eight months after tying the knot.

According to Miami-Dade County court records, local resident Shockey cited irreconcilable differences in the short filing against wife Daniela Cortazar.

A source close to Shockey said the former tight end has an iron-clad prenuptial agreement in place. Shockey hung up the phone on Gossip Extra when asked about the divorce..