Many couples assume that a prenuptial agreement is unnecessary. When two people get married at a relatively young age, neither person may have the assets or career that would seem to warrant a prenup. However, as the marriage goes on circumstances may change, and you could end up dealing with a messy, expensive divorce.
This happened recently to director Alex Graves. Graves earned his fortune producing and directing several popular television series, including The West Wing, The Practice, Fringe, Ally McBeal and Game of Thrones.
Graves married his wife Sarah in 1995. At the time of the marriage, Graves was working in Hollywood but had not yet achieved prominence. After directing 34 episodes of The West Wing in the early 2000s, Graves won two Emmy awards and became a well-known and highly sought-after director and producer.
The couple was married for nearly 20 years and had two children. Graves initially filed for divorce in 2014, citing irreconcilable differences.
Like Washington, California is a community property state. Because Graves did not have a prenuptial agreement, any income he made during his marriage was subject to a being split between him and his spouse. Since Graves achieved fame during the course of his marriage, nearly everything he earned and owned could be split up and shared with his wife.
After nearly two years of divorce negotiations, Graves and his wife finally settled the marital estate. Graves was required to split half of his earnings from The West Wing and Game of Thrones, and is required to pay his ex-wife $8,625 per month in spousal support. Additionally, Graves is on the hook for an $5,657 per month in child support. Finally, Graves will owe his ex-wife an extra bonus payment if he earns more than $425,000 per year.
While Graves may have lost half of his earned income and property, he was allowed to keep his two Emmy awards.
Graves’ divorce highlights the importance of prenuptial agreements. He could have saved himself two years of negotiation and uncertainty that undoubtedly traumatized his children had only really made his attorneys happy. A prenuptial agreement drafted during the honeymoon phase of the marriage, makes it more likely that any future dissolution of the marriage will be done peacefully, fairly, and without the uncertainty and turmoil of lengthy litigation. These agreements benefit all families that may want to be prepared for the worst case scenarios—even if you don’t become a famous writer/director.
At Pacific Northwest Family Law, our Washington family law attorneys are skilled at creating prenuptial and postnuptial agreements that can protect a couple in case of divorce. Our lawyers can create an arrangement that is fair to both parties and ensures that each spouse will have the financial resources to survive in the event that the marriage breaks down.
To learn more about how Pacific Northwest Family Law can help you, contact our office and schedule an appointment today by calling 509-572-3700.