One of the first things a university torts professor will tell his or her students is “never hand out legal advice willy nilly.” Because as it turns out, if you’re crazy enough to finish a JD and survive the bar exam -- other people are liable to follow advice you didn’t even realize you’d given. So it’s best that we clarify exactly what you’ll be getting from the Buckingham, LaGrandeur, & Williams blog.
Four times a month you will NOT be getting insightful legal advice about family and injury law, but instead topical observations and humor as it pertains to the paragons of human achievement… CELEBRITIES.
So, to set the expectations of our digital courtship, here are the five of the dumbest prenups from your favorite pop-culture icons.
Marriage is a (five-year) sentence
Contrary to the messages espoused by their rom-coms, Hollywood stars rarely make it to the “til death do us part” of their wedding vows. But few have made us doubt the existence of love in the valley as much as Liz Taylor and Larry Fortensky. The couple’s prenup guaranteed the starlet’s construction worker hubby one million dollars if they divorced after five years of marriage. Obviously this was meant as some sort of backwards incentive to stay together, but we’re willing to bet you can guess how long their matrimony lasted before we calculate 365 × 5...
Every good story starts with a cocktail napkin
And it’s also where the story of Steven Spielberg's four-year marriage ends. We’re not really sure how you convince a fiancė to agree to something as pragmatic as a prenuptial agreement (lawyer’s note: good idea) when it’s written on a piece of paper that is designed solely for wiping scraps of deviled eggs from your face (lawyer’s amended note: bad idea), but we guess Mr. Spielberg also convinced studio execs Gremlins 2 was a good idea...When the time came, neither the happy hour prenup, nor the 2-hour assault on our cinematic nostalgia held up, and millions of dollars were lost by everyone except Amy Irving.
No, that’s not what ‘habeas corpus’ means
As lawyers, we’d rather not showcase unverified comments, but there are just too many opportunities for puns for us to pass this one up. According to a close friend of famed musical artist Ice-T, in the case of a divorce, the rapper will retain ownership over certain assets his wife obtained via plastic surgery. Most legal professionals see the titular details as nothing but a profane joke with zero possibility of legal enforceability. So don’t under any circumstance bring anything like this up in your prenuptial negotiations -- you're far better off staying abreast of more relevant considerations. Sorry, three puns is probably enough, we’ll butt out of Ice’s personal life now.
Literally, a million-dollar baby
So far everything in our list can be chalked up to petty millionaires fighting over their paltry millions. But when you start putting price tags on children, you know things are about to take a grim turn, which is a pretty harsh judgment coming from a pack of lawyers. That didn’t stop the queen bae though; Beyoncė inserted a clause into her prenuptial agreement that requires a five-million dollar payout for each of the children she bears Jay-Z. Which as public knowledge, must make their five-year-old daughter’s “mommy and daddy are fighting” stories just a tad more riveting than her classmates’.
Pro-tip: Don’t fire lawyers who try to save you money
Look, we get it. You’re in love! How could you possibly ask your soon-to-be-spouse to sign what is essentially a contingency plan for your nuptials? That’s another topic for another post, but please don’t make the same mistake Roseanne Barr did. We could slap a dime-store romance cover on your prenup (actually we can’t, the notaries requested we stop doing that), but at the end of the day it’s no different than planning for a child’s college fund, retirement, or even a last will and testament. Money isn’t fun, or sexy, to talk about when planning a marriage, but it is an unavoidable conversation regarding the consolidation of two individuals’ financial accomplishments. Oh yeah, back to Roseanne. She fired her lawyers for even suggesting a prenuptial agreement between herself and Tom Arnold. Which at the behest of a $50 million dollar divorce settlement, is a painfully expensive “moral highground.”
If you’ve come this far, you’re probably looking for that final, neatly-wrapped piece of advice with one last snarky comment to really bring the whole thing together. Unfortunately, that’s not how family law works. Just keep it simple, practical, and limited to the task at hand: identifying assets and categorizing their role in the forthcoming marriage. Oh, and always let lawyers do lawyer things on lawyer paper, because we refuse to argue your pinky-swear contract before a court of law.