America has waited on the edge of its seat for Jennifer Aniston to find true love ever since her divorce from Hollywood bombshell Brad Pitt in 2005. This August Aniston announced her engagement to boyfriend Justin Theroux. The couple met while filming their recent comedy “Wanderlust.” Because Aniston has obviously been husband shopping since her previous divorce, the engagement was not a big surprise. However, the media was shocked to learn that Aniston refused to consider a premarital agreement.
Advisors reportedly insisted that Aniston sign a premarital agreement in order to protect her current fortune worth an estimated $150 million and her future earnings. Aniston continues to star in successful films and is still collecting millions. According to a source close to the star, “Jen is a hopeless romantic, so money is the last thing on her mind now. The way she sees it, Justin is her soul mate, and she trusts him implicitly with every aspect of her life – including her finances.” This decision has made Aniston’s friends and family a bit nervous but she insists she is madly in love and that this marriage will last an eternity.
Under California Family Code section 1610, a premarital agreement is defined as “an agreement between prospective spouses made in contemplation of marriage and to be effective upon marriage.” The parties to a premarital agreement essentially enter into a contract to avoid the community property system. The parties may contract with respect to the following: the rights and obligations of each of the parties in any property; the right to manage and control property; the disposition of property upon separation, divorce or death; and the choice of law governing the construction of the agreement. A premarital agreement only becomes effective upon the marriage of the parties. However, after marriage, the parties may amend or revoke the agreement. In order to revoke or amend a premarital agreement, the parties must do so in a signed written agreement. Oral modifications are unenforceable.
Without a premarital agreement specifying the distribution of property upon divorce, California community property laws will apply if Aniston and Theroux ever divorce. Any property earned by Aniston prior to marriage will be considered her separate property. Thus, her current 150 million dollar fortune should be safe if proceedings between her and Theroux are less than amicable. However, during marriage Aniston may inadvertently change the character of that separate property to community property. Therefore, it will be important for her to discuss the implications of her actions with an experienced family law attorney before making any changes.
Any income earned by either party during marriage is community property and subject to equal division upon divorce. This may seem like a small risk for Aniston but when considering Katy Perry’s short marriage, it may not be. During her 14-month marriage to Russell Brand, Perry earned approximately $44 million. As community property, Brand has a good argument that the cash should be equally divided. However, like a gentleman, he refused to accept any of this small fortune. Hopefully if Aniston’s marriage turns sour, Theroux will do the same.
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 lawyer 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.