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George Clooney Needs a Prenup

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We have all heard the breaking news -- George Clooney has decided to forfeit bachelorhood and tie the knot. His bride to be, Amal Alamuddin, is a savvy international lawyer. Certainly, a girl like Amal, who has a fabulous career would not enter into marriage lightly, especially because she will be likely giving up her London based law practice to settle down with George in Los Angeles. Further George's "people" and George himself, will undoubtedly be eager to protect the fortune he amassed over these years of being single. As such, one can imagine that a prenuptial agreement is in the works.

What will the prenup do for the couple? No one knows for sure, because to the extent it has been drafted, it is certainly not public knowledge. However, for certain, the prenup will protect the property that each party acquired or acquires before the marriage. For example, if they decide to purchase a home together before or after the marriage using George's considerable wealth, they could agree that even if they title the property jointly, George would get his money back first from any proceeds of sale in the event of divorce.

George likely continues to receive monies from all those ER reruns and other projects on which he worked or developed. As part of their prenup, George and Amal can agree that these monies and any appreciation on the monies or anything purchased with these monies remain separate property and do not convert to marital property no matter when they are received. The parties can agree that the proceeds from projects or movies that George develops during the course of their marriage become part of their marital estate subject to division in the event of a divorce. They can even agree on the percentage division of these assets that each will receive in the event of a divorce.

As part of their Agreement, George and Amal may also determine the issue of alimony. Who knows if Amal will continue her career once she becomes Mrs. Clooney. Perhaps, she will demand an alimony payment from George. The prenuptial agreement can determine the amount and duration of the alimony award. It can also contain a waiver of alimony if the parties agree that neither shall have this obligation.

Finally, the prenuptial agreement can establish the parties' rights in the event of death. For example, each party can waive their statutory rights in the event the other dies without a will. This simply means that neither would be entitled to receive anything from the other party unless a will specifically provides for a distribution.

Of course the foregoing prenup is completely speculative. No one knows at this point whether George and Amal will even have a prenuptial agreement although given the lack of longevity of most Hollywood marriages, it is probably a good idea. Prenups, however, are not merely for celebrities. Most marrying couples can benefit from having a prenuptial agreement which is basically an insurance policy against what might go wrong. Unlike an insurance policy, a prenup does not require payment of premiums to keep it in effect, however, like insurance, it can save a tremendous amount of time, money and grief if it is ever needed.

 - Jennifer A. Brandt is a divorce attorney with Cozen O’Connor and legal analyst for Avvo.com.

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