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Was celebrity couple’s high-asset divorce strategically timed?

Because California is the land of celebrities, it also tends to be the land of celebrity divorce. When high-asset couples get married, mingle assets and eventually get divorced, their legal proceedings often play out in the media. This gives the rest of us a view into the often complex issues surrounding property division, prenuptial agreements and high-asset divorce.

Some Hollywood marriages seem doomed from the start, so news of divorce does not come as a surprise. With certain celebrity couples, however, the public reacts to a divorce announcement with surprise and even some sadness. An example of the latter is the recent divorce announcement from Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner.

The two actors, who have three kids together, filed for divorce just one day after their 10-year wedding anniversary. While the split seems amicable, there is speculation that the timing of the divorce could be strategic. California law considers a marriage of 10 years or longer to be a “long-term” marriage, and that classification can affect the amount of spousal support the lesser-earning spouse is awarded as well as how long spousal support is paid.

Because they were both successful actors prior to marriage, it is likely that Garner and Affleck signed a prenuptial agreement. Some prenups have time-sensitive clauses written into them, such as a “sunset clause” that voids the prenup after a certain wedding anniversary or a clause that awards benefits based on the length of marriage.

It is unknown whether Affleck and Garner have a prenup, and if so, what its terms are. But because the timing of their divorce filing is so close to their 10-year anniversary, it seems likely that there was some strategic reason for it.

If you are considering divorce or have already decided that divorce is necessary, you likely have many questions about property division, spousal support, child support and a host of other issues. Rather than worrying about these matters and trying to research them yourself, you may find it helpful to contact an experienced family law attorney who can answer your questions and guide you through the process.