The Garner and Affleck divorce and prenups

While many Texas residents may be following the news that Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner are divorcing after a fairly lengthy marriage and three children, they may not be aware of some of the implications of when the divorce was filed. In California, where the couple resides, marriages are not deemed to have been long-term ones until they have reached the 10-year point. In the Garner and Affleck case, Ms. Garner filed for divorce 10 years and one day after their marriage.

Waiting for 10 years may have implications on the amount and duration of spousal support to which the lower-earning spouse may be entitled under California law. Although both Mr. Affleck and Ms. Garner entered into their marriage with significant assets, it may have been a consideration Ms. Garner was instructed to follow by her attorneys. Another possibility is that the couple had a prenuptial agreement, which are becoming increasingly popular. Many such agreements establish per-year settlement amounts to be awarded by the higher-earning spouse to the lower-earning one. Some condition settlements upon reaching certain milestones.

Prenuptial agreements can be an important vehicle through which people can protect their financial interests and their futures. If they contain illegal provisions or are drafted incorrectly, they may be considered invalid, thus subjecting the spouses to a property division determination by the court rather than pursuant to the agreement.

Drafting a prenuptial agreement according to the mandates of contract and family law is important. If an agreement is drafted that includes illegal provisions such as those for child support or child custody, the court may disregard the entire document. Other problems may include a failure by one party to disclose his or her true financial condition or forcing one of the parties to sign it under duress close to the wedding date. A person who is considering a prenuptial agreement may find it advisable to seek the help of a family law attorney.