Prenups: Why you need one and pitfalls to avoid!

Posted on: March 30th, 2016
The Big Bang Theory actress Kaley Cuoco is one of the highest paid actresses on television. She earns one million dollars per episode and has a net worth of $44 million. Before she married tennis star Ryan Sweeting in 2013, Cuoco asked him to sign a prenuptial agreement (“prenup”). 

After less than two years of marriage, Cuoco filed for divorce. She assumed the prenup would be valid. However, Sweeting alleges that the prenup shouldn’t be enforced and he wants spousal support. So, is The Big Bang Theory star’s prenup ironclad? A better question might be – is any?

Cuoco Was Smart, But…

Cuoco was certainly smart to have Sweeting sign a prenuptial agreement as his net worth was only about two million dollars versus her $44 million. However, while a well-written prenup generally addresses asset division and support issues, they are not always ironclad. 

In this case, Sweeting alleges that his circumstances have substantially changed due to numerous sports injuries, and an addiction to painkillers which has prevented him from earning a living as a tennis player. So, while he didn’t need support when the prenup was signed, he does now
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3 Ways to Invalidate a Prenup
There are generally three ways to invalidate a prenup, by proving:
  1. Unconscionability. This is a legal term of art meaning that, under the circumstances, it would be grossly unfair to enforce the document. To overcome it, Cuoco would likely have to prove that Sweeting was represented by an independent attorney who advised him of the consequences before signing. 
  2. Coercion. Legal contracts can be deemed void when one party was coerced into signing it. In its harshest terms, that equates to being forced to sign something at gunpoint. In this case, it means that either Sweeting wasn’t given enough time to read it or didn’t voluntarily sign it.
  3. Fraud. Sweeting could also allege that Cuoco lied about her net worth and that, based on her fraudulent activity, the prenup shouldn’t be enforced.
If Cuoco’s attorney did his or her job correctly by making sure that these doors to invalidating the agreement were not left open, which seems to be the case, it’s most likely that she’ll prevail.

Don’t Risk Your Wealth!

Prenuptial agreements are part of a strong estate plan and should always be prepared by experienced attorneys. Each party requires their own attorney who knows how to comply with the laws of that particular state and take into account what changes in the relationship might affect the validity of the prenup. 

Today, 50% of all first marriages, and 70% of all second marriages, end in divorce. It makes sense to plan for the worst and hope for the best. Don’t risk your wealth and future by failing to have as ironclad a prenup (or “postnup” – an agreement made after marriage) as possible. It’s easier to accomplish than you would think and we can provide you with the tools you need to do just that. If you are contemplating marriage, please call our office immediately to make sure you’re protected.
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