After months of rumors, last week Ben Affleck, 42, and Jennifer Garner, 43, announced their plans to divorce – just one day after their 10-year wedding anniversary.
Indeed, we've been anticipating the news for months, and divorce attorneys understand why Garner waited until the 10-year mark to initiate the divorce filing; the timing was more than a coincidence.
The divorce was in the works for some time; Garner's attorney probably told her to wait until the marriage lasted 10 years before filing. Under the California Family Code Section 4336(a), a marriage that lasts ten years or longer is considered a marriage of "long duration."
Marriages of a 'Long Duration'
If a marriage has lasted 10 years in California – that means spousal support can be affected. Essentially, the lower-earning spouse – in this case Garner – could petition the courts for more spousal support or for a longer duration because she's put in a great deal of energy and effort into the union.
It is possible that Affleck and Garner had a prenuptial agreement with an added monetary benefit that came into play upon the couple's ten-year anniversary.
With the Supreme Court's ruling in favor of same-sex marriage nationwide on June 26, 2015, we expect to see an increase in prenuptial agreements among gay and lesbian couples in all 50 states. This is especially the case in states that didn't recognize same-sex unions before the high court's ruling.
What Prenups Can and Cannot Do
With prenuptial agreements, there's a lot of flexibility. For example, there can be an agreement that if the couple divorces, that the higher-earning spouse will pay a certain amount of money for each year of marriage.
Divorce lawyers have seen spouses give another spouse anywhere from $5,000 to $100,000 annually for each year of marriage. Often, the divorce settlement depends upon the assets of the wealthier spouse.
In the case of Ben and Jen, and many other divorcing celebs, both spouses came into the marriage with plenty of assets of their own. In all situations, it's important to know what a fiancé has and doesn't have, and to avoid hiding assets.
What a prenuptial agreement cannot address are issues involving child custody and child support. Only a family law judge can determine the child support and visitation in a divorce case.
At Cutter & Lax, we advise all of our wealthy clients to do their due diligence before signing a prenuptial agreement. The top reasons why prenups don't hold up in court is because of hidden assets or a last minute signing.
It takes time to gather all of the financial documents, so you want to give yourself about six months to draft an airtight prenup.
Contact an Encino divorce attorney from Cutter & Lax to work with a Board Certified family law specialist!