Another “Real Housewife” marriage is over. Dr. Paul Nassif filed for divorce from Beverly Hills Housewife Adrienne Maloof. Originally, Nassif filed for legal separation in July but has now decided to proceed with a divorce. Maloof is worth an estimated $300 million but she did not earn that money simply by being a housewife. Maloof earned her millions as a co-owner of her family business named Maloof Companies. Maloof Companies is famous for its ownership interest in the Sacramento Kings and the Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas. Although his fortune nowhere near rivals that of his wife, Nassif is worth an estimated $14 million, which he earned as a successful cosmetic surgeon.
The couple married in 2002 and has three children together, Gavin, 9 years old, and 6 year-old twins, Christian and Collin. Considering the large fortune at stake and the long-term nature of the marriage, the most prominent issue in the divorce will be the validity of a premarital agreement. According to Nassif’s lawyer, Lisa Helfend, a premarital agreement is in place. The divorce petition affirms the existence of a premarital agreement. However, there is no indication of whether either party will challenge it. Depending on the terms of the agreement, Nassif may have a motive to argue that it should not be enforced.
Under California Family Code section 1615, a premarital agreement is not enforceable if the challenger proves either of the following: (1) that party did not execute the agreement voluntarily OR (2) the agreement was unconscionable when it was executed and, before execution of the agreement, certain conditions are met. In order for a premarital agreement to be declared unenforceable on grounds of “unconscionability” all of the following must have applied to the challenger: (a) he or she was not provided a fair, reasonable and full disclosure of the property or financial obligations of his or her future spouse, (b) no effective waiver of disclosure was executed, and (c) he or she did not know or have reason to know of the property or financial obligations of his or her future spouse. The issue of whether a premarital agreement is “unconscionable” is a question of law and therefore decided by a judge.
In the Maloof-Nassif case, the judge will determine whether there was full disclosure or waiver of disclosure of Maloof’s assets and liabilities prior to the execution of the premarital agreement. To be effective, any waiver must be express and in writing. Additionally, a premarital agreement is not executed voluntarily unless the court finds Nassif was represented by independent legal counsel at the time of signing the agreement or effectively waived this right. As we have previously blogged, Nassif must have been given seven calendar days between the time he was presented with the agreement and the time the agreement was signed. Likely in this case, independent legal counsel represented Nassif when he signed the agreement.
Please contact us if you are considering a divorce from your spouse, a legal separation, or have questions regarding child custody and visitation. Nancy J. Bickford is the only attorney in San Diego County representing clients in divorces, who is a Certified Family Law Specialist (CFLS) and who is actively licensed as a Certified Public Accountant (CPA). Don’t settle for less when determining your rights. Call 858-793-8884 in Del Mar, Carmel Valley, North County or San Diego.