In June, billionaire media mogul Rupert Murdoch surprised his third wife, Wendi, with divorce papers. Mr. Murdoch, the founder, Chairman, and CEO of the world’s second-largest media conglomerate, has been married with the current Mrs. Murdoch for 14 years, has two young daughters with her, and has four other children from previous marriages. In other words – plenty is at stake. However, the Murdoch divorce may not play out as disastrously as one would imagine because the couple signed not only a prenuptial agreement but two postnuptial agreements – one after each of their daughters was born.
Nowadays, postnuptial agreements are becoming increasingly common. Unlike prenuptial agreements, postnuptial agreements are entered into after the marriage rather than before. They cover many of the same issues commonly covered in prenuptial agreements, such as asset protection, debt division, and spousal support.
Oftentimes, however, many people are hesitant to enter into a postnuptial agreement because they believe that they adversely impact one spouse while benefiting the other. In actuality though, postnuptial agreements can protect assets as well as shield spouses from debts. Some scenarios where postnuptial agreements are a good idea include:
- One spouse wants to borrow a significant amount of money to start up a business. The other spouse does not want to share in the debt that is created should the business fail. A postnuptial agreement can be drafted to shield one spouse from the debt burden in the event of a divorce.
- One spouse receives a large inheritance and wants to invest it in an existing family business, but he or she wants to ensure that if there is a divorce the value of the inheritance will be protected. A postnuptial agreement can be drafted to protect the value of the investment in the business.
- A postnuptial agreement can also be drafted so that real estate and community property is divided equitably rather than equally (a 50-50 split), as prescribed by California community property law.
Since the legal relationship between people changes once they are married, it is vital to have an experienced attorney draft any postnuptial agreement. Courts carefully scrutinize postnuptial agreements to ensure that they were entered into voluntarily, without coercion, duress, or undue influence. Likewise, the Murdoch postnuptials (and prenuptial) will be highly scrutinized by both parties for these loopholes.
At Lonich Patton Ehrlich Policastri, our attorneys are prepared to help clients create targeted, legally binding postnuptial agreements. We always recommend that clients have legal counsel review their agreements to make it more difficult for either spouse to challenge the issues later on. If you have any questions about postnuptial agreements, please contact our California Certified Family Law Specialists (as certified by the State Bar of California Board of Legal Specialization). Our attorneys have decades of experience handling complex Family Law proceedings and are happy to offer you a free consultation.