Estate attorney Lori Douglass says honest conversations about finances are essential before saying “I do.” In the event of divorce or unexpected death during the marriage, a prenuptial agreement may protect you.
In the aftermath of rapper MC Lyte’s divorce from her husband of six years, John Wyche, the music great is highlighting just how important it is to have a prenuptial agreement in place.
Despite some media outlets painting her divorce as a nasty “battle” dragging out in court since she filed in 2020, MC Lyte says that narrative is dead wrong.
“My divorce was not a battle,” she wrote in a recent Instagram post. “While I made public comments related to the delay in signing papers, I can state that any delay may have been connected to his desire to save the relationship; never to take any of my property.”
Acknowledging the reality that divorce can lead spouses to lose valuable property and assets they earned independently, MC Lyte is advocating for the Black community, in particular, to embrace prenups.
“If you have anything to protect going into a marriage, get a prenuptial agreement so there’s no confusion if it comes to an end,” she wrote in her post, adding: “As a matter of fact, make sure you protect all of your assets with proper insurance, financial and estate planning. Our people are far behind the wealth gap; get a financial education and do what is in your power to protect what God has blessed you with.”
If you’re planning a wedding, the last thing you likely want to be thinking about is your marriage ending and how you’d split up your assets in the fallout. But with more people getting married later in life and 50 percent of marriages still ending in divorce, the likelihood of entering a marriage with something to lose is very real.
Recent polling reveals more Americans are getting prenuptial agreements before their big day. Married and engaged millennials who were surveyed — 40 percent aged 18 to 34, to be exact — report signing a prenup.
A prenuptial agreement is a contract that parties sign before they get married. It often details what property or assets each person is entering the marriage with, and how they should be divided in the event the parties go their separate ways.
Some recent high-profile cases have shown estranged spouses challenging or revisiting prenups, such as in the divorce of actors Tia Mowry and Cory Hardrict. According to legal documents obtained by Radar Online, after the couple’s 14-year marriage, Hardrict asked a judge to determine “the validity of the prenuptial agreement dated April 14, 2008, and/or that any provisions are unconscionable.”
Prenups are legally enforceable and can only be challenged in cases when someone was forced to sign involuntarily, the prenup was executed without lawyers present or includes aspects that are unforceable, such as denying a child the right to child support, according to the Law Offices of John B. D’Alessandro, a firm based in New Jersey.
Estate attorney Lori Douglass, Esq. explained even couples who aren’t rich should plan as if they are.
“If you’re really young and you don’t have anything and you’re just starting out, a lot of people probably won’t have a prenup,” Douglass told theGrio. “And you can’t tell whether you need one, other than later on when you are very successful.”
“You see a lot of celebrities or athletes or people where, one person’s profession make[s] a whole lot of money because of their personal skill,” Douglass continued. “When the divorce comes, that person sometimes feels, ‘Well, wait a minute, why should you now get 50%? We have all this extra because of my talent.’”
Douglass advises brides- and grooms-to-be to figure out the specific marriage laws for their states, which may impact how they design their prenup.
“Some states like New York have an elective share statute. The second you say I do, the spouse is automatically entitled to a minimum of one third of the spouse’s estate,” Douglass explained.
“So if you say ‘I do and die’ at the reception, that spouse still gets one-third, even if at that point you would have wanted it to go to your mother or your siblings, it happens instantly – unless you have an agreement.”
Watch the full interview with Lori Douglass, Esq. above, and tune in to TheGrio Weekly Fridays at 2pm and 10pm ET on theGrio’s mobile app for the news and lifestyle stories you need to know.
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