By Bonnie A. Rabinovitch-Mantel, CFLS.
In the world of Hollywood, there is rarely better fodder for gossip magazines than a juicy prenuptial (prenup) agreement controversy. Prenups (also called a premarital agreement) answer the age old question of who gets what when a marriage goes south. While prenup agreements may provide some Hollywood intrigue, to San Diego spouses caught up in challenging a prenup, proving that a prenup was not legally binding and therefore should be challenged can be costly both financially and emotionally.
Take, for instance, the recent case of Big Bang Theory television star Kaley Cuoco and her former spouse, tennis pro Ryan Sweeting. The duo wed back in 2013, just months before Cuoco was offered a mega per-episode series contract that amounted to $72 million dollars. Due to irreconcilable differences, Cuoco and Sweeting’s marriage came to end this past September. On the upshot, however, Cuoco wisely protected her assets in a prenuptial agreement that--according to TMZ--addressed all issues of property and spousal support.
With their prenup firmly in place, this means that the former couple’s home in Tarzana, along with their Santa Barbara vacation retreat, will go to Cuoco per their agreement. Likewise, Cuoco hangs on to her $72-million-dollar series contract. For his part, Sweeting is left with a sizable, though comparatively modest, one-time payout of $165,000, as well as whatever “cash and gift cards” remain in his possession. To boot, Cuoco has agreed to pay Sweeting’s personal trainer fees at $195,000. For a starlet venturing close to the $100 million dollar worth range, the payout to her former husband is minor compared to what she might’ve paid had they not signed a prenup.
Though the news of another Hollywood divorce is often met with an eye-roll, the fact is that most divorce proceedings are emotionally taxing, stressful experiences that leave both parties reeling and weary. When it comes to prenup agreements, they can often make divorce proceedings simpler on the surface, however, challenging a prenuptial agreement is also an option. Though a prenup is a binding contract that begins when a couple weds, there is still recourse for a former spouse in San Diego that feels a prenup arrangement is unfair, or if the circumstances surrounding the prenup and its signing were legally questionable.
Instances in which a prenup arrangement can be reasonably challenged in San Diego County include:
* If your former spouse did not fully or honestly disclose all of their financial assets, properties, etc., when the prenup was drawn up and signed.
* If a full seven-day period for reasonable review was not given when the prenup was drawn up and signed.
* If you or your former spouse signed the prenup while under any form of duress, such as force, manipulation, etc.
* If you or your former spouse were not mentally sound at the time of the prenup signing, or if you and/or your former spouse were intoxicated in any way or ill at the time of the prenup signing.
* If the party giving up substantial interests or rights was not represented by counsel and the waiver of said rights was not explained to the unrepresented party and that party didn’t sign an acknowledgment of that explanation and subsequent waiver in a separate document.
All in all, a prenup is a serious contractual document, but that doesn’t mean there can’t be questions about or challenges to its validity. Though a prenuptial agreement may seem like an unromantic gesture amidst the flurry of wedding planning and impending marriage, in the case of Kaley Cuoco and her former beau, it worked out excellently--at least for one of the parties involved.