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Why the Royal Couple - and You - Need a Prenuptial Agreement

April 28, 2011

Royal watchers have been treated to most details of the wedding coming up this week, except for the one that's most interesting to New Jersey family lawyers: Is there a prenuptial agreement involved?

Not so surprisingly, there's been no official word about the presence, or lack thereof, of a prenuptial agreement, before Prince William and Kate Middleton officially tie the knot on Friday.  However, if there was any marriage that required a watertight, solid prenuptial agreement, it would be this one.

Both Prince William and his bride-to-be would benefit from a prenuptial agreement.  In Williams’s case, there is much at stake.  These are large chunks of land, heirloom jewels, and massive wealth involved.  There is also personal prestige to protect.  The Royal Family will definitely not want a repeat of the Diana mess, which involved loads of dirty linen being washed in public. 

Kate Middleton may also come from considerable wealth, but her personal fortune is nowhere on the scale of the billions she's marrying into.  A divorce could have her pitted against the Family, which would no doubt rally to protect her husband's financial interests.

According to the divorce settlement between William’s parents, Prince Charles and the late Princess Diana, his mother received a lump sum 17-million pound settlement, which his father’s financial advisers say accounted for a large portion of Charles’ personal wealth. Not all royal brides have been as lucky.  Fergie, the Duchess of York, was left with a meager 15,000 pounds per year annual settlement after her divorce from Prince Andrew.  When you consider that out of Queen Elizabeth’s four children, three have been involved in messy and acrimonious divorces that kept their divorce lawyers very busy, you understand why this generation needs to protect its interests with a prenuptial agreement. 

Nobody wants to think about prenuptial agreements and division of assets during a happy time like this, but the fact is that approximately 50 percent of all marriages end in divorce.  A prenuptial agreement can help you define the rights and obligations of each party, details about spousal support, details about the financial division of assets in the case of dissolution of the marriage, and other important aspects. In the case of a high profile wedding like this, it could also involve confidentiality clauses.

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Helmer, Conley & Kasselman, P.A.

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