When Hollywood power couple Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner announced that they were planning to divorce the day after their 10-year wedding anniversary, many speculated as to the strange nature of the timing. Why wait until the day after your anniversary to announce that they were headed for a (presumably) amicable split?
The Rise of the Prenuptial Agreement
Since announcing the end of their marriage earlier in the summer, legal personnel and onlookers alike have speculated over recent weeks that the Hollywood couple’s odd divorce timing comes down to a carefully crafted prenuptial agreement, one that could have included added incentives for a long-term marriage.
In the state of California, a 10-year long marriage, such as that between Affleck and Garner, is legally considered to be a long-term marriage, and the lesser-earning spouse could appeal to the courts for additional alimony payments or support due to the length of the marriage.
It is also possible that the couple had a prenuptial agreement in place that outlined added monetary benefits after the tenth anniversary of marriage.
While neither Affleck nor Garner’s reps have discussed any prenuptial agreement with the media or public, the situation has drawn attention to the very nature of the legal accord.
The American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers found, through a 2013 survey, that prenuptial agreements have become increasingly commonplace in divorce proceedings, with lawyers seeing a 63 percent increase over the last several years.
Prenuptial Agreements in California
For many yet-to-be-married couples, prenuptial agreements aren’t even considered. However, those who are either not entering their first marriage, or those who have significant assets, often ponder having one in place in the event of a split in the future. At the end of the day, whether your marriage is built to last or not, protecting your assets and the well being of your future is a priority.
In California, a prenuptial agreement becomes automatically effective once a couple has signed it and been legally married. Sometimes called premarital agreements, these types of accords cover both present and future property rights. It is important to note that these types of documents do not outline any control or custody over children, in the event of the dissolution of marriage.
A prenuptial agreement may contain provisions that cover financials and other assets, as well as other rights, including, but not limited to:
- The division of property or assets, if any
- The allocation of spousal support or other alimony payments
- The ability to mutually give up spousal support
- The ability to change the nature of either separate or community property
- The option to waive inheritance rights
It is important to note that these agreements cannot include any terms that are illegal or against general public policy. Additionally, California courts have previously ruled that premarital agreements that seek to promote divorce are unenforceable.
In California, our family attorneys understand the stressful and delicate nature of divorce, and can provide the sound legal advice and compassion that you need during this difficult time.
At the law firm of Arata, Swingle, & Ven Egmond, we have more than 30 years of combined experience in all aspects family law, including divorce and premarital agreements. We understand the importance of family, and are prepared to advocate on behalf of you and your loved ones for a brighter, more stable future.
To consult with one of our family attorneys regarding your prenuptial agreement, we invite you to schedule a consultation today by calling (209) 522-2211.