On October 21, 2015, BRMM attorneys Danielle Mayoras and Andy Mayoras authored an article in Forbes discussing the divorce proceeding between Kaley Cuoco and Ryan Sweeting.
Ryan Sweeting Seeking Spousal Support from Kaley Cuoco Despite Prenuptial Agreement
Professional tennis player Ryan Sweeting, whose net worth is roughly $2 million, is seeking spousal support from Big Bang Theory actress Kaley Cuoco, whose net worth is roughly $44 million. Cuoco was named Forbes’ highest paid TV actress of 2015, tied with Sofia Vergara, with earnings amounting to $28.5 million, and earning $1 million per episode.
On November 20, 2013, Cuoco and Sweeting, both California residents, signed a prenuptial agreement. After six months of dating, they tied the knot on December 31, 2013. Cuoco filed for divorce on September 25, 2015, stating in the divorce petition that the prenuptial agreement controlled division of assets and how spousal support would be handled. Sweeting is seeking an alternative approach.
Are Prenups a Good Idea?
In general, prenuptial agreements are a smart idea when individuals coming into a marriage have assets. However, the prenuptial agreement needs to be properly prepared to work effectively, and an experienced attorney is necessary for this. Each state has different laws in this area, so the drafting attorney needs to be well-versed in that particular state’s laws.
In California, where the Sweeting-Cuoco divorce is pending, there is a specific and detailed statute setting forth when a prenuptial agreement does or does not apply. In Michigan, however, there is less guidance on when a prenuptial agreement applies. In general though, if the agreement is made voluntarily by the parties, is not unconscionable at time of execution, and is not unfair and unreasonable given the changed circumstances between time of execution and divorce, then courts will uphold a prenuptial agreement.
Is a Court Likely to Give Sweeting Spousal Support?
In Cuoco and Sweeting’s situation, Sweeting will have difficulty getting a court to go against the terms of the prenuptial agreement if it was carefully drafted and worked out, which it likely was given the high stakes involved. Signing under coercion or not being afforded the seven-day waiting period prior to signing are other reasons to get around a prenup, but these problems are unlikely in this situation.
Sweeting could potentially argue that he incurred a number of tennis-related injuries during the course of his marriage to Cuoco, in addition to a pain-killer addiction. He could argue this negatively impacted his ability to support himself. If this argument is successful, then Cuoco might have to pay spousal support despite what the previous terms of the prenuptial agreement stated. In California, a spouse can only get one-half the duration of the marriage. So, in Cuoco and Sweeting’s case, since they were only married for a short period of time—21 months—Sweeting could only receive support for a year or so. The court awarding him spousal support would probably come down to determining whether or not enforcing the agreement as written would deny Sweeting a reasonably adequate source of support.
In Michigan, prenuptial agreements would normally control spousal support payments. If no enforceable prenuptial agreement is in place, then a couple could mutually agree on spousal support or a court can decide. In Michigan, spousal support can be paid in one lump sum or periodically. If paid periodically, it can be temporary or permanent. Temporary spousal support can cease upon an event, which could be death of one of the spouses, remarriage, or once a specific amount has been paid. Permanent spousal support is more likely in marriages that were longer. In deciding upon spousal support, if the parties do not agree, the court could look at a number of factors including fairness, how old the spouses are, current living situation, ability to pay, needs of the spouses, how each spouse behaved during the marriage, length of the marriage, ability to work, among other factors.
BRMM practice family law, handles divorces, and prepares prenuptial agreements. Our attorneys compassionately help families and couples in all phases, including formation and dissolution. Contact us at (248) 213-9514 or fill out our online form for a free, confidential consultation.