Does Britney’s Spears Prenup Protect Her Assets?22 Aug 2023 | Sarah Norman-Scott
News has emerged of Britney’s marriage breakdown earlier this month when Sam Asghari filed for divorce, citing irreconcilable differences. While they had been together for 6 years, they were only married for 14 months. Sarah Norman-Scott of Osbornes looks at how the prenup is likely to be treated and whether Britney will be ‘lucky’ (for those who are not Britney fans, this is the title of one of her songs in the early noughties).
The family home belongs to Britney
Britney purchased the family home before she met Sam in 2015 for $7.4 million. It has been reported that Britney and Sam signed a prenuptial agreement allowing Britney to retain the home, and all her pre-acquired assets will be ring-fenced and free from claim (a fairly common term in prenups). There are contradictory reports about what Sam will receive in the divorce, with some reports stating that Sam will receive $1m every two years of marriage, up to a cap of $10m. Some reports state Sam isn’t to receive anything at all, save that he can keep the gifts Britney gave him throughout the marriage. If the couple has any joint assets, then Sam will receive his share of those, but it is not known what the couple agreed in the prenup. Generally, most prenups state that pre-acquired assets are kept separate, and anything joint will be split between the parties (either equally or unequally if one party has contributed significantly more).
Can Sam challenge the prenup?
It is not clear yet if Sam intends to challenge the prenup, but reportedly, his divorce papers state that he is seeking spousal support (called spousal maintenance in England and Wales) and for Britney to pay his legal fees. Given the prenup specifically precludes spousal support, it would suggest he is challenging the prenup. Britney will likely take a pragmatic approach and seek to negotiate with Sam rather than litigate the matter through court. Still, it seems inevitable that Sam will likely receive a substantial payment from Britney, whether to fulfil the prenup terms or following negotiations with Britney’s legal team as an alternative to litigation.
Prenups are binding in California (where Britney resides). However, they may not be upheld if there has been a lack of financial disclosure, consent, or independent legal advice or if a Judge finds it unconscionable if it is particularly unfair. Sam has his own earning capacity, so the jury is out on whether the outcome (of Sam receiving nothing) is likely fair. In contrast, prenups are not currently binding in England and Wales, and the Court retains jurisdiction on determination of a prenup. Prenups ultimately must ensure both parties’ needs are met, and a Judge can intervene and award greater financial provision than that set out in the prenup if the prenup fails to meet one of the party’s needs. If Britney’s prenup was drafted according to the law in England and Wales, then it may not be upheld if Sam is not due to receive any financial provision, as this is likely to be considered unfair.
A prenup is more likely to be upheld, proving it meets the criteria set by the Supreme Court and the Law Commission. The agreement must:
- be in writing and executed as a deed;
- be entered into at least 28 days before the wedding;
- contain a statement that the parties understand the agreement will remove the court’s discretion to make financial provision orders
- confirm both parties have provided full financial disclosure to one another
- confirm both parties have obtained independent legal advice
- be valid and enforceable as a contract
- be freely entered into without any pressure or undue influence from the other party
- be fair
- not prejudice any children
- ensure both party’s needs are met
Whilst some people have labelled Britney ‘crazy’ (in an attempt to name another of Britney’s songs), she was very sensible to enter into this prenuptial agreement to limit her exposure and Sam’s claims on her substantial net worth.
The family team at Osbornes are well equipped to advise on prenuptial agreements (and postnuptial agreements for those wanting to enter into them during the marriage) and has rankings in the Legal 500 and Chambers & Partners for their expertise.
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