Legal Blog

Should George Clooney Have a Prenuptial Agreement?

Question: Should George Clooney have a prenup? Answer: Of course!  If he was my client and lived in Maryland, he would.  Here’s why: Consider the following hypothetical: I suspect that Mr. Clooney has many business interests, which he owns prior to his marriage.  After he is married, Mr. Clooney contributes time and effort to grow those businesses, which appreciate by, say, $10,000,000 during the marriage.  In the event that marital difficulties arise and the couple divorces, his wife, under Maryland law, would make a claim to the appreciation in the value of his business during the period of the marriage.  If the wife was successful in making that claim (which depends upon many factors), Mr. Clooney may be faced with a marital award to pay her some portion of that appreciation, say 50% or $5,000,000. Here’s the problem: Let’s say that Mr. Clooney did not have cash like that sitting around, and as a minority shareholder in the company, he may be unable to turn his interest in the company into cash.  He would be stuck.  In a prenuptial agreement, the parties would agree that any interest that Mr. Clooney now owns or hereinafter acquires in that company, including any appreciation thereof, would be “non-marital property.”  Mr. Clooney could make other concessions if his fiancée were concerned about this wavier to make the agreement more fair. Comment: Even for the world’s most eligible bachelor, a prenuptial agreement can be a touchy subject.  Depending upon the circumstances of the couple, their respective assets, and stage in life, raising the issue of a prenup may seem sensible to both parties or may spoil the joy of the upcoming wedding.  Maryland law alone, in the absence of a prenuptial agreement, will protect certain property from being considered “marital property” at the time of divorce.  Specifically, Maryland law excludes from the definition of “marital property,” the following: property that is (i) acquired before the marriage; (ii) acquired by inheritance or gift from a third party; (iii) excluded by valid agreement; or (iv) directly traceable to any of these sources.  But as with many things in law, there is a gray area when parties have lived together for many years and have comingled property that would otherwise meet the criteria of “non-marital property,” such as in the example above.   A prenuptial agreement can eliminate those gray areas. If you have any questions about prenuptial agreements, please contact Alex Allman at: Divorce in Maryland aallman@offitkurman.com | 410.209.6438 Alex Allman focuses his practice in the areas of family law and civil litigation. Mr. Allman has been involved in handling all aspects of domestic or family law cases, including divorce, property distribution, child custody, child support and alimony, as well as a broad range of complex commercial and civil litigation. You can also connect with Offit Kurman via Facebook, Twitter, Google+, YouTube, and LinkedIn.