After Britney Spears announced her engagement to longtime boyfriend Sam Asghari on Instagram, the social media reaction included congratulatory comments – as well as the suggestion that she should get a prenuptial agreement.
They included actress Octavia Spencer, who later apologized after receiving a backlash, saying she just wanted to make the pop star and her new fiance laugh.
“Thank you to everyone who is concerned about the marriage contract! »Ashgari said in an Instagram story. “Of course we get [an] iron clad prenup to protect my jeep and shoe collection in case [sic] she dumps me one day, ”he joked.
The pop star’s announcement comes amid her high-profile battle to end a 13-year guardianship, which allowed his father to control his finances. While Spears has an estimate $ 60 million net worth, divorce lawyers say marriage contracts aren’t just for the rich.
“I still think it’s wise to control your finances. And that’s the main reason I recommend marriage contracts, ”said Kelly Chang Rickert, a Los Angeles divorce lawyer and founder of an eponymous law firm.
Divorce lawyers have said anecdotally that they have seen an increase in marriage contracts throughout their careers. “Now people are more empowered,” Rickert said. “Before, marriage was eternal, so you pick a lifelong partner and that’s it.”
And Elizabeth Crowley, a Massachusetts-based divorce and family lawyer with Burns & Levinson, said individuals – aware of high divorce rates across the country – are also increasingly aware of their problems. financial affairs.
A marriage contract is not a single document, said Rickert, and the provisions you should consider including in your marriage contract may depend on where you live.
For example, California is one of the nine communal property states in the country, which means that property acquired during marriage by either spouse, as well as debts incurred, are held equally by both spouses. Other communal property states include Louisiana, Nevada, Texas, and Washington.
And in California, Rickert noted, if you marry someone who earns much less than you, you can count on child support if you divorce.
Marriage contracts are not just about protecting one’s assets; they can help you avoid partner debt, Rickerts added.
“A common scenario is that you divorced someone and then they turned out to have charged $ 100,000 on their credit card,” she said. “So now you’re responsible for half of everything they billed during the wedding, because California is a community property state. ”
Crowley explained that there are no limits to the extent of financial resources you can protect in a prenuptial agreement, such as assets and income you have not yet received, gifts. and heirloom, and specific categories like jewelry and vacation homes.
Some types of assets that people are increasingly protecting are cryptocurrency holdings or an individual’s interest in a startup, she said.
“The more specific you can be about the categories of income and assets that you are looking to protect and manage in a prenuptial agreement, the better,” Crowley said.
Crowley said that sometimes clients will ask if they can include provisions regarding any children they may or already have, including custody, parenting plans and financial support in the event of a divorce.
“And the short answer is no: you cannot predetermine the rights of unborn or married children,” Crowley said.
Crowley said there are times when marriage contracts can be challenged. The reasons may include a person claiming that they were under duress when they accepted a marriage contract or that they did not fully and accurately disclose their assets.
However, she noted that ultimately marriage contracts are very effective tools for protecting one’s wealth and establishing rights and obligations in the event of divorce or death.
As marriage contracts are increasingly talked about in media, social circles and professional environments, Crowley said more and more people are getting one.
“Or, at least, get a consultation with a qualified professional to see if their situation warrants consideration of a prenuptial agreement,” she added.