Undoing a Pre-Nup: How the Bobby Flay/Stephanie March Divorce Got Really Ugly, Really Quick

Can a prenuptial agreement be invalidated or nullified at the time of divorce?

For many, signing a prenuptial agreement (also known as a premarital agreement) imparts financial security at a time when emotions often cloud sound judgment. Some of the benefits of a premarital agreement include:

• Clearly delineating real and personal property as separate and distinct;
• Identifying ownership of valuable assets acquired prior to and during the marriage;
• Protecting adult children from estate depletion by a second or subsequent spouse; and
• Preserving family heirlooms or generational real estate ownership.

Once a couple agrees to sign a prenuptial agreement, both must submit financial statements to one another, as well as meet with independent legal counsel to go over the rights, benefits and obligations conferred by such an agreement. Under Arizona laws, financial disclosures must be truthful and accurate, and must reveal all the assets owned by each spouse – especially those that will be kept separate.

It is only after each partner has reviewed the full financial landscape of the other that a valid premarital agreement may be executed. At this point, parties are free to include virtually any (lawful) language they like in the agreement, including infidelity clauses, marriage milestone rewards and even the amount of spousal support each partner can expect in the event of divorce.

In the recent, highly publicized divorce between celebrity chef Bobby Flay and television actress Stephanie March, the details of a decades-old premarital agreement became fodder for public scrutiny – especially in light of the agreed-upon spousal support executed prior to the growth of Flay’s culinary conglomerate.

According to reports, the amount of spousal support due to March paled in comparison to Flay’s multi-million dollar empire, and she believed she was entitled to much more given his substantial net worth. In his defense, Flay argued that the premarital agreement controlled the divorce no matter the success of his career, and she had signed the agreement fairly and in full awareness of its terms.

Being Hollywood, however, both camps engaged in a little media mudslinging, resulting in a settlement presumably acceptable to both sides. However, for non-celebrity couples considering a premarital agreement, it is always advisable to consider not only the partner’s current worth, but the expected growth of assets in the future – and to negotiate for a spousal support amount accordingly.

If you are considering a premarital agreement – and would like to avoid the drama described above – please do not hesitate to contact the Phoenix matrimonial attorneys at Cohen Family Law today! (602) 714-8898.