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Michigan Family Law Blog

Friday, November 4, 2016

Brangelina: The Split Heard Round the World

: Can proper pre-nuptial planning streamline and privatize an eventual divorce?

Brangelina is now just Brad and Angelina again. By now you’ve likely heard that one of the world’s most popular celebrity power couples, Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt, has recently called it quits after 12 years together and two years of marriage. The couple has six minor children together, with three being adopted by the couple. They also reportedly have 12 properties between them, with Pitt owning seven, Jolie owning two, and the couple jointly owning three others acquired prior to their marriage.

Jolie is seeking a divorce amid rumors of everything from an affair to differing parenting styles to child abuse being cited as the reason. She is seeking sole custody of all six children while Pitt seeks shared custody. The tabloids stand ready to feed the celebrity-obsessed public every juicy detail, sometimes without regard to the truth. But just as Jolie and Pitt previously took control and shut down the expected frenzy over their newborns’ pictures --with out-of-the-country births and the planned release of the baby photos exclusively to select high-bidder media outlets-- their foresight to plan ahead for an eventual split will now help them keep some semblance of privacy as they finalize their divorce.

Reportedly, a prenuptial agreement was signed prior to the marriage that will dispense with many of the issues that could make for a long, drawn out and more public airing of their private business. A “pre-nup” is a contract entered into before marriage wherein the couple modifies or gives up certain rights to the assets of their future spouse that they would otherwise be entitled to simply because of the marriage. A prenuptial agreement may address what happens to assets and debts realized before and after the marriage or to inheritable financial assets earned by both spouses during the marriage. In addition, it can address what will happen in the event a spouse dies and/or how will assets be divided between any children of the marriage as well as the prior children of both spouses.

Pre-planning for asset and debt distribution at a time when the couple has clear heads and warm hearts, can make the often emotional time of a later contentious or heated divorce less stressful. The streamlined process can also save a couple time and money in the event of a divorce.

By having a prenuptial agreement, the notoriously private Jolie-Pitt couple, may be able to divorce almost entirely outside of the limelight, especially if it addressed how both their non-marital property as well as their anticipated marital property would be distributed in the event of divorce. Marital property is all the assets (and debt) acquired after the marriage, either individually or jointly, including real estate, stocks, income and more.

Having a prenuptial agreement before marriage is not something reserved for the rich and famous. Some of the scenarios where a pre-nup might be beneficial include but aren’t limited to where there are children from a prior marriage or one or both intended spouses own all or part of a family business or own real estate, stock or other assets. It is also helpful if the couple wants to address alimony issues in case of a divorce.

If you are considering marrying or remarrying, you should consult with an attorney experienced in prenuptial agreements and divorce law.

The Law Office of Byers & Goulding, PLC, has extensive knowledge of Michigan property division law as well as the skills and tools to handle complex, high-asset divorce cases. Contact us here or call 248.608.4123 for a free consultation.


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