Chris Pratt and Anna Faris called it quits after eight years of marriage, and we are still trying to shake off the heartbreak.  It’s no secret that both stars have had very prosperous careers, which led to accumulation of major assets along the way. This could make things complicated for the purposes of property division. The stars also have a five year old son, and unless they work together and reach an agreement regarding custody, things could get messy.

Legal separation:

Both parties announced through a joint statement on August 6, 2017 that they were “legally separating,” but what does this mean exactly? Legal separation doesn’t end the marriage. It differs from informal separation because a court must approve and order legal separation, and it also differs from divorce because the marriage continues to exist after a legal separation. For this reason, couples who are legally separated but not divorced may not marry a new spouse because that would violate bigamy laws. Unlike in California, legal separation does not exist in Texas. Thus, if an unhappy couple like Chris and Anna lived in Texas, they would have to file for divorce, and until such divorce is filed, a Texas court would not be able to enter any type of legal separation agreement between the parties.

Prenuptial agreement (Prenup):

It remains unclear whether Chris and Anna have signed a prenuptial agreement (prenup). A couple can enter into a prenup before marriage in order to decide ahead of time what will happen to the couple’s assets and income in an event of separation or death. If a couple like Chris and Anna do have a prenup, then it would make things easier on several of the issues: spousal support, earnings from employment, and property.  If they don’t have a prenup, however, then they would have to engage in tracing and trace the assets that they had at the time of marriage, which would be treated as separate property. Everything after the marriage would be treated as community property. In California, the law requires that the community estate be divided equally if there is no written agreement requiring a specific division of property. In Texas, however, equal division of community property is not required. When a couple divorces, Texas law requires that their property be divided in a manner that is “just and right.” This means that the division of property must be equitable, under the circumstances. In determining whether the division is equitable, the court can consider several factors such as who is responsible for breaking up the marriage, how much money each spouse earns, their health, education, nature of future employment, and more.

Who typically enters into a prenup?

Anyone can enter into a prenup; however, some are in more need of this agreement than others. For example, nowadays many people decide to get married in their 50’s or 60’s. Chances are these people have already been divorced before, have children from prior marriages, and have accumulated a substantial amount of assets that they would probably like to protect. In other scenarios, two young, successful professionals may decide to marry. In that scenario, they may want to start a family and create a new life together, but at the same time they may want to keep their professional affairs separate and thus would enter into a premarital agreement.  In Anna and Chris’ scenario, it would have been wise to enter into a prenup, given their wealth and earnings over the years, but we’ll have to see if that’s the case as their divorce continues to unveil in the public eye.

How long before the wedding should a prenup be signed?

There’s not a specific time frame, however a prenup should be signed far enough in advance that either party cannot later say he or she was being coerced into signing it. To provide a more specific answer, the process for preparing a prenup should start at least three months in advance of the wedding. Once you decide that you want to get married and sign a prenup, it would be wise to schedule an appointment with an attorney as soon as possible.  Keep in mind that one attorney cannot represent both parties in preparing a prenup, thus each party should have his or her own attorney. Planning ahead in this situation will not only help alleviate some of the stress associated with getting married, but it will also reduce the possibility of entering into an invalid agreement.

Pros and cons of a prenup:

If you look at marriage as a business relationship and not as solely a romantic relationship, you may see why prenups can be beneficial. Prenups can protect your financial stability and the financial stability of your children. You may even use a prenup as a basis to outline spousal support in an event of separation.  A prenup can also reduce the possibility of conflict and argument over specific issues, since the agreement will outline how those issues will be resolved. This will in turn save money during the divorce process. A prenup can even establish procedures and ground rules for deciding future matters. The agreement doesn’t just have to protect financial aspect of marriage—it can also include details of decision-making and responsibility sharing to which the parties agree in advance.

On the other hand, there are some negative aspects associated with a prenup. Let’s face it, it’s not romantic to talk about business and the possibility of your marriage possibly coming to an end. Additionally, having this conversation at the outset may create a sense of lack of trust or commitment in a relationship. Discussing what goes into an agreement is also a matter of timing, and at the outset, you may not even anticipate some of the issues that may present themselves later in your marriage. That could certainly make things a bit uncomfortable and stressful.

If you and your spouse are planning to get married, it would be wise to consider a prenup, but at the same time don’t feel pressured to enter into one. You know your situation and your relationship better than anyone else, so what may work for other couples may not necessarily work for you. In Anna and Chris’ case, attorneys and relatives may have suggested that a prenup is the smart way to go in their situation, but the couple may not have been comfortable pursuing it due to a number of reasons mentioned above. Either way, whether or not our celebrity couple has a prenup, we wish them best of luck in the process!