I recently had a women in my office that was distraught that her husband had been having an affair and wanted advice about preparing for a divorce. They had been married for fifteen years. I always ask if there are any agreements in place directing how they will divide their assets, such as a prenuptial agreement. As usual, her answer was “no, when we met we were young and had nothing to put into an agreement.” As a result, she sat in my office crying about having co-signed for her husband’s student loans and being responsible for the marital debt. Had she had a prenuptial agreement discussing such debts and planning for their financial future in case of divorce the situation may have saved her many tears.
YOU MUST ASSUME ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE, EVEN A DIVORCE!
Larsa Pippen, wife of NBA star Scottie Pippen for the past 21 years, has recently filed for divorce – Again. She filed previously approximately two years ago. Guess what – it does not appear that the couple had a prenuptial agreement in place. Now, Larisa is requesting spousal support and wants the court to decide how their property is divided up between them. Scottie played for the Chicago Bulls and it is said he played a role in transforming the team and popularizing the NBA in the 1990s. His popularity and paychecks were just beginning to grow in the 90s, and they were married in 1997. At that time, he was quickly amassing fortunate and fame. I’m guessing, he did not think he requires a prenuptial agreement at that point. However, I’m sure he will now realize how crucial proper financial planning is for protecting what you worked so hard for and ensure the fair distribution of your property and assets upon divorce.
Without a prenuptial agreement, there is nothing stopping his wife of accruing exorbitant amounts of money in legal fees in an effort to cause him to settle and provide her with more support than she would otherwise receive from the court. Also, since there are no agreements with regard to spousal support and asset distribution the spouses will inevitably start the mudslinging and dirt gathering against each other to gain a home court advantage. Currently, Larisa is going for a slam dunk by taking a move directly from the playbook, by releasing angry and irate, nonthreatening voicemail recordings left by Scottie on her phone. The previous love birds better gear up for a nasty game of one-on-one. Ok, enough with the basketball puns.
It is not out of the ordinary for people to get angry, leave each other hateful and angry messages, and do spiteful things to each other during marital strife. However, in this case, as was the case with Angelina and Brad’s divorce that I discussed in a recent post, she will try to use his missteps against him threatening to tarnish his reputation in a very public way and gain sympathy of the court. Of course, this is a well thought out power play to get a more favorable settlement from Mr. Pippen. Wrong sport, right?
Regardless of what sport metaphor you use, considering many spouses approach divorce like trying to win the gold medal at the Olympics, it is crucial to note that had they had a prenuptial agreement, Mrs. Pippen would have less motivation to go to such lengths to gain a favorable settlement. In fact, most of what they are currently arguing over would have been discussed in and controlled by the terms of their prenuptial agreement.
Furthermore, Mr. Pippen has children from previous relationships and has had many money woes and investment blunders in recent years. Had he had a prenup, he may have been able to ensure that every one was taken care of while still leaving him in a position to handle all of his expenses, debts, and support. However, without having a prenuptial agreement, even someone in his tax bracket can easily find himself struggling to meet all of his obligations and lead a comfortable life. Of course, Larisa will argue that her and their four children should enjoy a lifestyle comparable to the one they enjoyed at the peak of his success, and he will argue that he retired and their recent financial struggles should be marital losses.
Only time will tell what the outcome will be. Only one thing is for sure, had there been a prenup Scottie’s divorce would probably be something no one really heard about rather than a public spectacle and he would have fared much better in the long run. On the bright side, maybe he can have the restaurant workers who gave him the nickname “No Tippn’ Pippen” come testify to how frugal he really is.
In conclusion, while prenuptial agreements may have once only been the province of the rich and famous, that is no longer the case and each couple should consider the use of such an agreement to specify how their assets will be divided if they split. In fact, HD Family Law now handles as many prenuptial agreements a year as divorce cases. It should be the first thing couples contemplate upon getting engaged so as to eliminate any arguments that either spouse was coerced into signing the agreement. It is said that if you fail to plan, you plan to fail. Therefore, ensure that “Nothing Says a Good Day Like a Divorce” and seriously consider a prenup when engaged.