I read, with some professional interest about the potential "hit" Paul McCartney will face with his upcoming divorce with Heather Mills. According to the latest report, it may be as high as one-quarter of his estimated $1.56 billion worth. Let me do the math for you - that's $390 million for a four-year marriage. BTW, unless the couple were to have accumulated $780 million in community net assets during those four years, Ms. Mills would not be getting that much under California community property laws, as most of the money would be considered Paul's separate property acquired before marriage. But, this divroce will be governed by UK law of which I know jack squat, so there you go.
However, this case is interesting because unlike many other celebrity marriages, there was no prenuptial agreement. Sir Paul declined (which I am sure caused his children to froth greatly at the mouth), saying that prenupitals are "unromantic," although it appears that Heather offered to sign one before the wedding.
I have had people make the comment to me that signing a prenup is "planning for divorce" and so no one "truly in love" would ever sign one. Well, I don't know about that. I think there are circumstances that can warrant a prenuptial.
Certainly, when there are children from a previous marriage, I would advise a client to consider a prenuptial because the laws of community property in my state come into effect both at dissolution (what we call divorce in California) and at death for estate handling. Thus, a party may want to protect certain assets for the benefit of his or her children from previous marriages or relationships.
Consider too that prenups not only govern the potential assets of a marriage, but can govern liabilities as well. I could see a situation where one spouse who may have horrific debt executes a prenup as a way of actually protecting the other spouse. What says "I love you" more than wee bit of indemnification?
Prenuptial agreements are contracts and their breadth and scope is defined by what the two parties put in it - there is no "standard" prenupital. I think a prenuptial may also force the parties to go through an exercise of looking at each other honestly before making what should be considered a life-long commitment. That may be the biggest benefit of a prenuptial - when each party lays their cards, so to speak, on the table, each one knows a little better who they are going to marry.
I don't like divorce, which seems funny coming from a family law attorney. I dislike bullies and people who try to take advantage of others even more, which is one of the reasons I became an attorney. My job is not to promote divorce or save a marriage - but my job is to try to make it fair and equitable and as easy as possible for my client, for whom this may well be the wrost time of their lives. Prenuptials can help that process.
Good luck, Paul. Good news is there is no shortage of barristers, I'm sure, to take your case. Just watch out for the schlocky ones who may see their new country home in Kent coming from their legal fees from you . . .