Couples divorcing in Austin, Round Rock, Cedar Park, Georgetown and San Marcos will need to divide up property and assets. This process can quickly become contentious and messy, and it can have a big financial impact on your life. Just recently, the news has been full of reports of one of the largest divorce settlements in U.S. history.
An oil tycoon was ordered to pay his ex close to $1 billion as part of their divorce, but pictures of the check he wrote to her were posted on the Huffington Post and other news websites when his wife refused to accept the money. She believes she is entitled to more, and the couple has taken the issue back to court. Their divorce has already been ongoing for more than two years in large part because, as the news stories note, the couple had no prenuptial agreement.
Most people’s divorce settlements don’t involve billion dollar checks, but a family law attorney knows that any divorce can lead to fighting over what happens to your financial affairs. Prenuptial agreements can help dictate how property and assets will be distributed, greatly simplifying the process of ending the marriage. In some cases, prenuptial agreements can also include lifestyle clauses.
What are Lifestyle Clauses in Premarital Agreements?
Forbes reports that lifestyle clauses are showing up more and more frequently in either prenuptial or postnuptial agreements. Lifestyle clauses set guidelines for behaviors within the marriage and usually impose some type of financial incentive for complying with the guidelines or financial penalty for failure to comply.
Lifestyle clauses can address things like how frequently the couple will go on vacation; how often visits from in-laws are allowed; and who is responsible for housework. Some clauses go so far as to contain weight requirements prohibiting one or both spouses from getting above a certain weight. These clauses aren’t enforced by the courts while a couple is still married, but they come up when the couple begins the process of divorce. This is especially true for infidelity clauses, which are the most common lifestyle clauses found in premarital contracts.
Courts have largely eliminated fault rules for divorce, and there is thus no longer a requirement to prove infidelity or other cause in order to dissolve a marriage. Lifestyle clauses essentially re-introduce the concept of fault. The person who wants the clause to be enforced will need to demonstrate that the behavioral agreement was broken. If a premarital agreement specifies that a wife waives spousal support if she has an affair, the husband would need to prove she had cheated to avoid paying support.
Not all states will enforce all types of lifestyle agreements. Some courts have found that infidelity clauses imposing financial penalties are void as against public policy. Other courts, however, have enforced these clauses. If a clause like this is included in your premarital contract and you are getting a divorce, seeking enforcement can significantly complicate the end of your marriage. A lawyer should be consulted before including a lifestyle clause in a premarital contract and should be consulted to assist you if you seek to enforce this type of agreement in divorce.
Contact Bertolino LLP at 512-717-5432 to schedule a consultation with an Austin, TX divorce lawyer today. Serving Austin and surrounding suburbs including Round Rock, Cedar Park, Georgetown and San Marcos.