What Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner Can Teach Us About Prenups
If you pay any attention to social media, it’s hard not to know about Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner’s recent split. While their impending divorce is upsetting for the couple and for their fans, the scale of their resulting financial issues makes for a powerful lesson about the value of prenup agreements (and the dangers of their absence). Here’s what we can learn from them:
A prenup would not have controlled child support
Prenups generally do not affect child custody or child support matters. If Garner and Affleck lived in Pennsylvania, their child support would be calculated based upon their child custody schedule and their incomes or their ability to earn income, known as earning capacity. Pennsylvania uses an “income shares” model of child support. Since Garner has made quite a bit of money of her own, particularly off her show, Alias, and several movies, the amount of child support she receives would take into account her income as well as the amount of time she spends with the children. In some limited circumstances, a parent with primary physical custody can be ordered to pay child support to the non-custodial parent. This is done by the courts in an effort to provide a more uniform home live for children of separated or divorced parents.
Without a prenup, property is divided by the courts
Garner and Affleck should be commended for being so civil regarding their issues. They may recognize the emotional and financial cost of a lengthy legal battle and likely don’t want the courts making decisions for them. The former couple has several properties together: an LA ranch in Pacific Palisades, their Manhattan apartment, a ski chalet at Yellowstone Club in Big Sky, Montana and their 83-acre estate on Hampton Island near Savannah, Georgia. They’re said to be resolving things peacefully, but this obviously isn’t the case for everyone trying to divvy up property. A prenup can simplify and streamline the divorce process including the division of assets and debts.
While prenups are generally thought to protect the spouse with more income or resources, it is important that the financially dependent spouse is protected as well. The financially dependent spouse should make sure a prenup considers things such as use of a vehicle, a lump sum cash payment, continued health or life insurance coverage or even provisions for a residence in the event of separation or divorce.
Divorce is a complex process regardless of your earnings
Your legal representative should be someone you can trust. If you need help navigating this complicated and emotional time, consider contacting the law offices of Colgan & Associates, LLC. We’re a Pennsylvania-based law firm with a focus on family law matters that is committed to helping families move forward with their lives. To learn more about our professional staff and services, you can contact us here.