Mediating Conflict,
Embracing Peace

Washington divorce: Not signing a prenup might be a big mistake

If you are contemplating marriage, the topic of signing a prenuptial agreement may have already arisen between you and your intended spouse. You might be one of many people in Washington who are put off by the idea. If so, you might want to review numerous celebrity cases where stars say they opted not to sign prenups and later regretted their decisions.

Washington is a community property state in divorce. When you get married, you no doubt expect your relationship to last a lifetime. The problem is that many soon-to-be spouses think that if they sign a prenuptial contract, it means they think their marriage will be doomed. Not only is this not necessarily true, but taking time to sign a prenuptial agreement may even make you feel more closely bonded to your beloved.

Here’s what Jessica Simpson had to say

Jessica Simpson was married to actor/singer Nick Lachey for a time. After they divorced, Simpson said she greatly regretted her decision to avoid signing a prenuptial agreement before they wed. Lachey reportedly had asked her to do so. She told a talk show audience that she actually felt offended by the request at the time.

Many people choose not to sign prenups because of preconceived notions that the idea is unromantic. If a divorce occurs, especially in a high-net-worth case, a spouse who wishes to protect his or her assets might be better able to do so if a prenuptial contract exists.

When one spouse’s net worth is higher than the other

By the time actor Aston Kutcher married Demi Moore, the actress’s career was already on a downslide. Kutcher, however, was just reaching his peak. When the couple divorced, Kutcher said he wound up having to shell out a lot more money than he’d expected. The pair did not have a prenuptial agreement in place.

If you sign a prenup, keep it updated

Actor/comedian/director Chris Rock was married 20 years before he and his then wife decided to divorce. Rock may have thought he had all the bases covered because he had signed a prenup before his wedding day. The problem in Rock’s case was that the contract had expired before his divorce. He later joked on stage about going on a comic tour to raise money for alimony.

What you can learn from these celebrities

The celebrities mentioned here are not the only ones who have publicly lamented their decisions not to sign prenuptial agreements. It is good to remember that there are also postnuptial agreements, which means you can execute an agreement after you get married. It’s best to seek clarification of Washington laws that govern such matters before signing anything, however.

In this state, most family court judges are inclined to divide marital property 50/50 in a divorce. This might make a prenuptial agreement even more beneficial, particularly if a spouse wishes to retain separate ownership of a specific property or asset.