When Ben Affleck called off his engagement with Janet Jackson’s former backup dancer (you might know her), he avoided having to fork over half his assets if he cheated, as indicated in their supposed prenuptial agreement. Given his checkered relationship history, it was a smart decision.
You can work your way around a no-cheating clause in a prenup in three ways: strive to remain faithful, and avoid getting caught (e.g., Justin Timberlake and Jessica Biel), or call off the marriage as Ben did.
But a high-priced infidelity clause isn’t the only thing that spices up a prenup. Often, it’s the little stipulations that make an otherwise innocent contract about spousal finance, property, and alimony that catch everyone’s attention.
Tiger Woods’s $200 million no-cheating fee
Tiger Woods shattered his carefully constructed family-friendly image when news of his serial adultery surfaced.
The details of how his former wife Elin Nordegren discovered his affair (she went through his phone) were widely reported, stripping off his good-guy persona and serving as an inspiration for a South Park episode.
Elin already won when she bagged a reported $110 million settlement from the divorce. Her triumph continued when Tiger attempted to win her back with a $200 million prenup, should she accept a second round with the golf pro.
The price of cheating is clearly way higher if you’re a multimillionaire, so Elin allegedly raised the stakes and asked for $350 million. But attempts at reconciliation were flubbed, and the two have been separated ever since.
Elizabeth Taylor & an ex-husband’s 5-year itch
When Elizabeth Taylor married Larry Fortensky, a construction worker whom she met at rehab, no one harbored any illusion that it was a match made in heaven — not even the Oscar-winning actress herself. But she certainly could have avoided paying him a million bucks for their short-lived union.
Before tying the knot, Liz had Larry sign a prenup stating that if their marriage lasts for five years, he’ll get $1 million. Guess how long it took for them to separate.
It would appear, however, that Liz didn’t mind leaving her seventh and last husband a small fortune, seeing as she left Larry $800,000 in her will, on top of the $1 million he got when they divorced.
Chris Rock learned a valuable lesson about expired prenups the hard way
Before they got married in 1996, Chris Rock and Malaak Compton signed a prenup that most likely stipulated a limit on the amount Malaak would get if they separated. At the time, Chris was on track to become a huge movie star whose fast-growing fortune needed some lawyerly protection.
When he filed for divorce in 2015, he received a grim reminder about the importance of reviewing and renewing one’s marital paperwork. As it turned out, the Rocks’ prenup had a sunset clause, which meant he had to part not just with his wife of 18 years, but also with a huge chunk of his millions.
Including a sunset clause sets an expiration date on your prenup, and works particularly well for high-net worth individuals as it protects them from the real threats of getting married for money.
In Washington and several states, couples can renew their prenups or draw up an entirely new contract at any time during the marriage — something the actor failed to do.
Honorable Mention: Britney Spears’s ironclad prenup paperwork
Britney may have made a mistake in marrying Kevin Federline, whose demands for more child support payments proved how a solid prenuptial agreement could bulletproof a millionaire’s vast fortunes.
Brit did the right thing when she (actually her hundreds of lawyers) made him sign a prenup stating he would only get $1 million if they get divorced. Long story short, the Britney Army (of lawyers) did a great job protecting her millions from K-Fed.
As your divorce attorney, Buckingham, LaGrandeur & Williams will help you protect everything you hold dear during the dissolution of your marriage. Ask us about creating, modifying, or implementing a prenuptial agreement.