How Can Premarital Agreements Promote Post-Divorce Harmony?

Many people look at the bitter Uma Thurman/Arpad Busson separation in New York, and think that there must be a better way. In many cases, that “better way” is a premarital agreement.

During their protracted custody trial, the two sides trading outlandish allegations almost literally in front of their 4-year-old daughter. During his testimony, Mr. Busson denied that he was “addicted to prostitutes” and that he had threatened ex-fiance Elle Macpherson so badly that she eventually wore a wire to record her conversations. Earlier, when Ms. Thurman took the stand, lawyers accused her of mixing alcohol with prescription medications. In the end, during a closed-door mediation session, the couple resolved most of their issues.

A premarital agreement probably could have short-circuited most or all of the court case, leaving the parties firmly in control of their own destinies.

Making Premarital Agreements

Under the old piecemeal laws, only wealthy couples who could afford expensive attorneys bothered with premarital agreements, because the results were so inconsistent from state to state. Now, California and almost all other states follow the Uniform Premarital and Marital Agreements Act. Under this law, premarital agreements may cover almost any subject other than child custody and child support. As a result, many people use these contracts to:

  • Classify property as either community or separate property,
  • Limit or eliminate spousal support payments, and
  • Make provisions regarding succession and inheritance matters.

So, in addition to clarifying issues in the unlikely event of a divorce and thus conserving both financial resources and emotional capital, premarital agreements help put relationships on solid footing. Money is one of the leading causes of marital stress, and because they enable parties to make financial decisions well in advance, premarital agreements completely remove this destabilizing element from the marriage. The same can be said for stepchildren, since by making provisions for inheritance and succession, premarital agreements help avoid expensive and time-consuming fights in probate court that no one truly wants.

There is a strong legal preference in California and elsewhere to uphold spousal agreements, and so premarital contracts are usually deemed valid unless there is evidence of:

  • Involuntariness: Agreements are voluntary if both spouses laid all their financial cards on the table and there was no excessive coercion, as “sign or else” ultimatums may even be okay in some circumstances.
  • Unconscionable: There is a difference between “uneven” and “unconscionable,” and the precise definition of these terms is case specific. Additionally, the pact must be unconscionable when it was made and not unconscionable at the time it is challenged, a difference that’s illustrated below.

Typically, spousal agreements contain general severability clauses, so if certain parts are invalidated, the remainder of the agreement is still in force.

How Premarital Agreements Work

Another celebrity breakup, this one from Los Angeles, illustrates how premarital agreements work in family court.

When Frank and Jamie McCourt bought the Los Angeles Dodgers from Fox in 2004, the baseball team had perennially underachieved for over a decade, driving down fan interest and the team’s monetary value. In 2011, the team declared bankruptcy; reportedly, the McCourts would have been unable to make payroll without emergency assistance. At the same time, the McCourts were divorcing, and Ms. McCourt gave up her half of the team in exchange for about $180 million in property and cash, since the franchise was basically worthless. About a year later, after the team had rebounded both athletically and financially, Mr. McCourt sold the Dodgers to the Guggenheim Group for $2.15 billion.

Ms. McCourt sued to overturn the property agreement,claiming that Mr. McCourt concealed important financial information and that the pact left her about $900 million away from a 50-50 division. Eventually, an appeals court ruled that the agreement was not involuntary, since Mr. McCourt had furnished tens of thousands of pages of documents and as a former co-owner, Ms. McCourt could have easily verified the numbers elsewhere. Moreover, according to the court, the agreement was not unconscionable when it was made, because “Jamie simply chose the security of a guaranteed $131 million payment, plus more than $50 million in real and personal property, over the uncertainty and risk presented by the valuation and sale of the Dodger assets.”
The court also ordered Ms. McCourt to pay her ex-husband’s $1.9 million legal bill.

9 Legal Tips For When Going Through a Divorce

Whenever you are going through divorce proceedings, it can be really helpful if you know a few legal tips. These kinds of tips can help you a lot when you want to go through a smooth divorce.

Divorce law can be extremely complicated, but you can make it easier to navigate if you just follow a few of these family law tips. If you need more information, you should consider calling attorney that handles divorce.

  1. Make sure your spouse isn’t attempting to sell-off any assets during the divorce proceedings. If they do, you may be entitled to half of the proceeds.
  2. Similarly, you do not want to sell off any of your assets during a divorce. This could end up really making the whole divorce proceedings really complicated. And the money you gain from selling off your assets will have to be split with your wife.
  3. While a lawyer is not necessary for a divorce, it may be a good idea to hire one. A lawyer will be able to help you make the whole process of divorce go much smoother, so you should have no trouble at all going through a divorce when you hire a lawyer.
  4. It is always a better idea to hire a divorce lawyer. These kinds of lawyers will specialize in divorce law. So you can be sure that they know every kind of legal detail to pay attention to. They can help you with child custody among other things.
  5. Speaking of child custody, a lot of factors can affect who gets custody of the children. For example, if you are a smoker or drinker, then there is a high likelihood that you will not be getting the custody of your children. This is because the courts will actually favor a healthier parent.
  6. Try to maintain clear lines of communication with your spouse. You will need to do so to ensure that everything goes smoothly during your divorce. Not talking to your spouse, just means a longer divorce process. And if you are not on speaking terms with them, you can just talk through your lawyers.
  7. Do not get married while you are going through a divorce. Any kind of the third party during a divorce will make the whole process of the divorce go on for much longer. You should wait until after the divorce has finished getting married.
  8. Paying alimony can be a smart financial move. Alimony is tax deductible. And if you agree to pay alimony you are actually making the whole process of divorce go much easier. So it may be a good idea to negotiate alimony terms with your spouse or their lawyer.
  9. There is more than one option for child support payments. For example, child support is not merely paying regular amounts. You can also choose to support your child in numerous other ways. You can look into these other methods of child support, by asking a lawyer. You may end up saving money this way.

5 Tips for Anyone That Wants to Know About Child Support

If you have kids and are going through a divorce, then child support will be an integral part of the divorce proceedings. It can also be a costly one for the parent that is ordered to pay child support. That is because children are expensive to support. So if you want to ensure that you are not going to be overpaying your child support, you will need to know all the details about it first.

There are a few tips that you should know about if you are going to be paying child support. So be sure to keep these various tips in mind, especially if you are currently paying child support to your ex-spouse.

  1. If you have another child, you may end up lowering your child support obligations for your previous child. The number of children that you have is an important factor that the courts will use to determine the amount that you have to pay for monthly child support.
  2. You can also decrease your child support obligations if you spend more time with your child. If you are co-parenting your child with your ex-spouse, the amount of time that each of you spends with your children may affect child support obligations. If you care for your child more, such as by providing them with shelter and food, you could end up decreasing the amount you will have to pay for child support. So if you want to decrease your child support, consider spending more time with your child.
  3. You will not be paying child support for the entire time that your child is alive. In California, child support stops when the child reaches 18 years of age, unless they are still in high school. If they child is still in high school, then it terminates when the child turns 19 or graduates, whichever comes first.
  4. You should always pay your monthly obligations for child support. You may end up going through a lot of consequences if you miss child support payments. Depending on where you live, you could have your driver’s license revoked, or even have your passport revoked as well. So you should always try to meet your child support payments on time.
  5. You can file for a decrease in your child support payments if your circumstances have changed. For example, if you have lost your job or if you are going through bankruptcy. You can petition the court to lower the amount you have to pay for monthly child support.

In general, all of these tips are applicable for any divorce case. Each state may have different specifics when it comes to child support laws, however, they are mostly following the same idea. So you should be able to use these child support tips wherever you are.

Following these different kinds of tips, you may actually be able to potentially lower your child support obligations. So it can be quite helpful if you take these different tips to heart. You could actually negotiate a lower child support payment if you follow these different kinds of tips.

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What are The Different Factors That Affect Child Custody?

The legalities of child custody in divorce law are pretty complicated. A lot of factors can determine who gets custody of the child, or even whether or not if either parent will obtain custody of the child.

Child custody laws also determine the type of visitations that are granted to either parent. So, if you have got children, and are going through a divorce with your spouse, you will need to familiarize yourself with the various details of child custody laws. There are also factors that will be used by the courts to determine who will receive custody of the child.

One of the factors that the courts will look at is the health of the parent. If a parent has got a debilitating physical illness, then they are less likely to receive custody of their children. So if you have got some kind of physical illness that could prevent you from taking care of your child, you are most likely not getting custody of them. In the same vein, a parent with an unhealthy habit, such as smoking, will also not receive custody of their children. So if you are a smoker, and want custody of your children, you may want to give up smoking.

Those are not the only factors in determining who gets custody of the children during a divorce. The divorce courts will usually try to give custody of the child based on the best interests of the children standard. So they will also take into consideration the closeness of the relationship, or the emotional attachment of certain children with a specific parent. So if a child or children are closer to one parent, and if they have expressed a desire to be with that parent, then the court will most likely give child custody to that particular parent.

The financial capabilities of a parent will also be another factor in determining child custody. The more financially stable a parent is, the more likely they are to receive custody of the children during a divorce. A lot of factors are used to determine financial capabilities, such as assets, debts, and current income. So it is important that you disclose all of your financial details if you want to obtain the custody of your children during a divorce. The ability of the parent to provide for the basic needs of the child will be taken into consideration by the courts.

Learning all of these factors for determining child custody could be extremely useful. For example, if you want to get custody of your children, you may be able to use these different kinds of factors in your favor. You could also use these different kinds of factors to check who is more likely to receive custody of their children after the divorce. If you want to know more details about child custody in divorce law, you should speak to a family lawyer. They will be able to help you iron out all of the legalities when it comes to child custody and support in the divorce.

How to Find a Good Divorce Lawyer

If you are going through a divorce, it may be a good idea to hire a divorce lawyer. Unlike other attorneys, they will instead specialize in divorce and family law. So they will know the ins and outs of the legalities of divorce. With their help, you can speed up the divorce process and maybe achieve a better deal when it comes to child support or alimony. As such, it can be a really good idea to hire one. However, it can also be difficult to find one in the first place. Fortunately, for you, there is this guide for finding a competent divorce lawyer.

1. Hire an Attorney That Only Handles Family Law

A lawyer that is experienced in family law should be your first choice. You should not look into a lawyer that handles real estate, or even a criminal defense attorney. Always go for a family law lawyer. By doing so, you will get their knowledge and expertise when it comes to divorce law. And divorce law is extremely complicated, so it is best to go to an expert on the subject, and not one that is an expert on real estate law. You should always hire a lawyer that specializes in family law if you want to hire them specifically for your divorce. A great place to start is the State Bar website of the state you live in. For example, a California resident would visit here.

2. Shop Around – Meet with Several Attorneys

Shop around for a competent divorce lawyer. You should not settle on the first one that you find. It can be a good idea to set up meetings with at least two or three other lawyers, especially if you want to find a competent one. You can canvas different kinds of lawyers, to get a sense of their different skill sets. By interviewing many divorce lawyers, you may be able to select the best one out of t he bunch.

3. Ask Friends For Recommendations

And as always, word of mouth can actually point you to the right divorce lawyer. You can ask around for anyone that can recommend a good lawyer that can handle divorce cases. You may be able to stumble across one this way. You can try asking someone you know that has gone through a divorce. They may be able to suggest someone that you can hire to handle your own divorce case. So do not hesitate to search for a divorce lawyer by asking around. The chances of finding the right one are pretty high when you simply search for one based on word of mouth.

By following these guidelines, you should be able to hire a very reliable and competent divorce lawyer. If you want to go through the least amount of trouble when you are undergoing a divorce, you should look into hiring one. A divorce lawyer’s services could be invaluable whenever you are going through a divorce. And you may be able actually to go through a pain-free divorce if you hire the right kind of lawyer to handle your case. Do not hesitate to contact the services of a divorce lawyer if you find one that you can trust, you will be making a very good decision if you hire them.