Brooklyn Beckham and his fiancée Nicola Peltz are planning two wedding ceremonies for 2021, one in the UK and one in the US. While the young couple, who got engaged after 11 months of dating, are probably having fun choosing wedding playlists and sampling sumptuous reception food, the pair are also planning for what may come after their extravagant nuptials.
Like many couples who come from wealthy backgrounds, Beckham and Peltz have signed a prenuptial agreement to ensure that, in the event their marriage ends, they each leave the union with what they entered into it. It’s perhaps an obvious choice for two people whose families are worth $600 million (Beckham) and $2 billion (Peltz) respectively.
Celebrity prenuptial agreements have long been a subject of fascination as many of us can’t conceive a) discussing the demise of our relationship before we’ve even walked down the aisle and b) having so much money that it is simply imperative we protect it. Case in point, if my partner and I were to ever split he might be lucky to get his hands on a collectors edition box set of Harry Potter books and a confounding number of decorative skulls. He’s one lucky bloke, my man.
Of course, sometimes it can be the absence of prenuptial paperwork that has us talking, like when Amazon founder Jeff Bezos split from his wife Mackenzie in 2019 after 25 years of marriage. That’s right, the world’s richest man had nothing legal in place to protect his vast fortune simply because when the pair married he didn’t have the fortune to protect. Ultimately, Mackenzie left the relationship nearly 40 billion dollars richer thanks to a 4% holding in Amazon, however, she pledged to donate half of her wealth to charity.
So, what exactly is a prenup and why do people choose to get them?
In its most basic form, a prenup is a legally binding contract that stipulates the terms of an agreement decided upon by two people before they get married. While these types of documents are best known for laying out the parameters for the division of money and assets when a marriage unfortunately fails, the agreements can also cover circumstances such as death, student debt and incapacity.
Reasons for entering into such an agreement can vary from familial pressure — as in the case of Beckham and Peltz — if one or both families are exceedingly wealthy or have a generational legacy to safeguard. There may also be the ideal of wanting to avoid additional stress in the event of the dissolution of marriage as divorce proceedings can drag on when exes are bickering over finances, or wanting to ensure that any children from the partnership are adequately taken care of, especially in the event of a new spouse and new offspring coming into the picture.
Sometimes though, the motivation for having a contract in place can simply come down to a lack of trust. Prenups have been known to include infidelity clauses which mandate that a spouse must pay a certain amount of money if they stray. One lawyer recalls an agreement in which a woman wanted her husband, who was a known playboy, to pay $100,000 every time he cheated in the hopes that the financial implication would keep him faithful. It didn’t.
As you might expect, some people use prenups to lay out the rules of what happens during the marriage, not just after it. These contracts may include what is expected of the woman in terms of bearing children, how often the couple has sex, what chores each spouse must be responsible for during the course of the marriage, or even stipulations for what body weight one or both partners must maintain (so not cool.)
This loophole, naturally, leaves room for some pretty unusual demands. One prenup went so far as to outline television watching habits, mandating a “limit of one Sunday night football game per month for the husband and a limit of one season of The Bachelor/Bachelorette per year for the wife—all which must be watched from the den or bedroom, not occupying the largest TV in the house.”
And, if you think that prenups are only for the eye-watering rich or the supremely untrustworthy, think again. The contracts, which around 62 per cent of Americans sign, are there also to protect people from their partners’ student or tax debts, to ensure that any future financial success is fairly kept or divided or simply as a show of faith that each partner will do right by each other if the relationship sadly ends.
As for me, I think my skulls and Harry Potter books are pretty safe. Not because I can guarantee my partner and I will never break up, but because I know for a fact that he categorically doesn’t want them.