San Francisco Family Law Firm Explains What Average People Can Learn From Kobe Bryant and Jessica Simpson Prenups

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San Francisco family law firm Heath-Newton, LLP notes Jessica Simpson and Kobe Bryant have been in the news recently, both because of their respective prenups. Partner Erik Newton takes a moment to reflect on the nature celebrity marriage contracts, and what they can tell everyone about the marriages of mere mortals.

Celebrities need prenups—that goes without saying. What isn’t said often enough is that they could also use the process to avoid rather than to foreshadow divorce. And the same goes for the rest of us.

Celebrities may have more to lose than most people, so their need for a prenup seems more obvious. But Heath-Newton says every couple can benefit from having a prenup, and that if it’s carefully considered, it can strengthen the foundation of a successful marriage. Erik Newton, a partner at the San Francisco family law firm, explains what lessons can be drawn from the public prenup debacles of Kobe Bryant and Jessica Simpson.

“When celebrities marry, the process is very much like a corporate merger. All of the various income streams need to be charted. The books need to be balanced. The liabilities disclosed. The expectations for future growth must be set, and an exit strategy mapped,” says Newton. “Without this process, a split becomes a financial disaster. This is true of course for all marriages, it’s simply more evident with celebrities.”

To recap for those who have missed the news, Kobe Bryant’s wife has just filed for divorce, and there is no prenup. Kobe’s wealth is estimated to be around $150 Million. Assuming the entire fortune was earned during marriage, it’s all community property, meaning his wife Vanessa is entitled to half of it.

“Moreover, because Kobe continues to earn an income, and because Vanessa will likely gain custody of the children, Bryant could end up paying spousal and child support on top of losing half his net worth,” notes Newton. “Not to mention the attorney’s fees he’s going to pay.”

Jessica Simpson, who is pregnant, appears to be on the first chapter of a similar story. Her fiancé, Eric Johnson, has apparently backed away from signing a prenup, citing his belief in true love. Like any celebrity, Jessica’s income streams are fairly complex. She is apparently worth approximately $20 million, and in addition to earning fees for appearances, she continues to earn royalties from her licensing contract with the Camuto Group, which bought her clothing brand in 2005.

Newton explains, “Absent a prenup, Jessica’s income from all of these sources could very well become community property during a marriage. The same, of course, would hold true for her fiancé’s income, assuming he has any.”

Newton acknowledges the procedures necessary to create a valid prenup are time-consuming, confronting, and tedious. There’s no way around that fact. Nonetheless, he says, celebrities with complex financial structures would be insane to attempt marriage without a prenup, just as a corporation would breach it’s duties to shareholders by merging without a contract.

“More important than those obvious considerations, however, is the opportunity that a prenup presents to lay the groundwork for a strong marriage. This is the point that we miss in the gossip columns, and that most people forget when proposing a prenup to a partner.”

According to Newton, premarital agreements require couples to take a very serious look at their expectations for finances and relationship. These expectations say a lot about the marriage, they say a lot about love, and they say a lot about how the couple works through adversity. “Celebrities need prenups—that goes without saying. What isn’t said often enough is that they could also use the process to avoid rather than to foreshadow divorce. And the same goes for the rest of us.”

For more information about what can be learned from celebrity prenups, or any other family law matter, please contact San Francisco family law attorneys Heath-Newton, LLP by calling (415) 992-5038, visit their website, or stop by their office located at 240 Stockton Street, Suite 300 in San Francisco, California.

About Heath-Newton, LLP
Heath-Newton, LLP is a San Francisco family law practice focused on families. These San Francisco divorce attorneys pride themselves on working with clients from all backgrounds and lifestyles. Heath-Newton, LLP specializes in premarital agreements (prenups), same-sex marriages and domestic partnerships, divorce, child support, spousal support, adoption, and child custody in San Francisco and the Bay Area.


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Erik W. Newton
Heath-Newton LLP
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