After years of speculation about the state of their marriage, Blake Shelton and Miranda Lambert announced Monday that they had divorced. Not that they were breaking up, but that they had already filed the papers and were waiting for the divorce to be finalized in days.
While the press tries to figure out how they actually got shut out of the process until after the fact, the rest of us will wonder how a couple reportedly worth ninety million dollars could obtain a divorce so quickly and with such little fanfare.
The answer? A prenuptial agreement.
When Blake and Miranda got married, both had successful careers as country music artists, which means both had lots of assets and income streams to protect in the event the marriage did not work out. Given that celebrity marriages tend not to last, utilizing a prenuptial agreement seemed like a very good idea.
Other than Blake retaining the ranch in Ada, Oklahoma, and Miranda keeping the family home in Nashville, Tennessee, we do not know the terms of the agreement. But we can speculate with a good degree of accuracy.
Because all income earned during the marriage – including concert receipts and publishing royalties – would be considered marital property and also the most valuable of the parties’ assets, it seems likely that the prenup would have protected each party by declaring that the income each earned through their own tours and recordings would stay their separate property. Given that each had equally successful records and tours, this seems like a fair distribution.
With each party receiving one of the houses, what would be left of great value to divide? We imagine that any personal property, cars and luxury items purchased had been divided through an amicable distribution, each party deciding which items to keep.
Basically, the parties probably had a prenup of the “what’s mine is mine, what’s yours is yours” variety, which makes distribution at the time of divorce very easy as long as they maintained separate accounts during the marriage (is this not what they hire good accounts to do?).
For many couples, this type of prenup might seem unfair if one party made considerably more money during the time period than the other. In that case, the trial court would have to scrutinize the details of the agreement more closely to be sure it was not deemed so unfair to be unconscionable and therefore unenforceable.
Also, given their respective wealth as individuals, neither party likely needed or requested maintenance. Again, for many couples, this type of agreement would not work if only one party earned substantial income. Those couples would perhaps use a graduated maintenance provision stating that the longer the marriage lasts the higher the maintenance owed by the income-earning party.
What we can all learn from the Blake and Miranda divorce is that a high asset divorce that could be fraught with conflict can move very smoothly if the parties take advantage of a very fair and thorough prenuptial agreement. When people are newly in love they generally feel very warm toward one another and are more likely to make a fair agreement than at the time of a separation. When calmer heads prevail, the conflict disappears.
While Blake and Miranda surely must feel a wide range of painful emotions about the end of their marriage, fortunately they do not have to air their pain through the prism of a public divorce – because they took care of that before they got married.
If you have questions about a prenuptial agreement and divorce, contact us – we can help.