Prenuptial Agreements: Agreements to Disagree Later?

California residents Patrick Bode Dubbert ("Bo") met Walmart heiress Elizabeth Paige Laurie ("Paige") when they both attended an ACT prep course. Bo was the son of a successful businessman, but Paige was the granddaughter of one of the original Walmart founders, and her family was worth billions of dollars. They dated during their senior year in high school, but moved on separately with their lives. They re-connected four years later in what they described as "their destiny" and decided to get married. Before they married, in what was considered one of the social events of the season, Bo and Paige entered into a prenuptial agreement. The agreement stated that the separate properties of the parties would remain their separate properties during marriage. Further, in the event of divorce, Bo would be entitled to $30,000 a month in spousal support for up to one-half the duration of the marriage. They both signed the agreement stating that they had each been advised by separate lawyers and that they wore both fully aware of their rights and obligations under the agreement.

Sadly, according to celebrity gossip website TMZ, the marriage did not last. After almost six years of marriage, Paige filed for divorce in California. She agreed to pay Bo spousal support based on the terms of the prenuptial agreement - about $1.5 million. Bo is now requesting the court invalidate the agreement. He says that, although he hired an attorney to represent him in preparing the agreement, Paige's attorney convinced him not to rely on his lawyer, saying she was a "crazy female lawyer" and she didn't know how to deal with billionaires. He also is alleging that he was coerced into signing the agreement by Paige's billionaire parents. According to Bo, if he did not sign, Paige's parents would not pay the $100,000 fee for the wedding planner. If the trial court throws out the prenuptial agreement Bo may be able to receive spousal support based on his billion-dollar life style during his marriage, instead of living on a mere $30,000 per month for the next three years. The trial court has yet to rule.

In California, premarital agreements are valid unless the party against whom enforcement is sought (in this case Bo):

  • Did not receive complete information about the other party's finances and property before signing the agreement;
  • Did not have a minimum of seven days between first receiving the agreement and signing it (giving an attorney enough time to review the agreement); and/or
  • Was not represented by his/her own separate attorney when signing the agreement, unless he/she specifically waived representation.

There are other rules for enforcing prenuptial agreements in California, and it is in the best interests of the both the future spouses to have separate legal representation (that is, family law specialists) before signing any premarital or post-marital agreements.

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