Hugh Hefner was apparently a fan of prenuptial agreements

Many Florida readers are aware of the recent passing of controversial media mogul Hugh Hefner. The man behind Playboy magazine, Hefner has been a colorful character in American society for decades. Upon his passing at the age of 91, it was revealed that Hefner’s wife, who is 31 years of age, is expected to receive nothing from his estate. Through a judicial use of prenuptial agreements and estate planning, it appears that Hefner’s fortune will pass down to his children and a number of charities.

Many questioned the legitimacy of the marriage, which was the third trip down the aisle for Hefner. A large part of Hefner’s public persona was wrapped up in his relationships with much younger women. Many of those women were able to capitalize on the attention to further their entertainment careers.

Regardless of whether this was a match made in heaven, there is plenty of speculation that his widow will not be part of his estate. One source stated that she would be “taken care of,” but unless there were specific provisions laid out within the will and prenup, that outcome is far from certain. It is unclear how Hefner’s four children feel about the union, and how willing they might be to share their father’s fortune with his most recent wife.

Most Florida residents have virtually nothing in common with the life led by Hugh Hefner. Even so, his death could raise interesting questions about the role that prenuptial agreements play in estate planning. As more details emerge, the public will have a glimpse into how the media mogul addressed his financial needs.  

Source: ajc.com, “Hugh Hefner’s wife, Crystal Harris, signed ‘ironclad’ prenup, report s“, Nicole Moschella, Sept. 28, 2017

8-year high asset divorce case complete

Florida residents may recall media coverage of a high-profile divorce between the wealthy founder of Cancer Treatment Centers of America and his wife of 26 years. The couple have been separated for 10 years, and have been negotiating the details of their high asset divorce case for the past eight years. Unable to reach a settlement outside of court, the couple finally achieved resolution through a legal proceeding.

The wife initially asked for $400,000 per month in spousal support. Her husband argued that $9,000 a month was a more reasonable payment. The court determined that she will receive $55,000 each month, which amounts to approximately $27,500 after taxes.

In addition, the wife will receive $450,000 for housing, as well as two motorcycles, a Porsche, numerous pieces of jewelry and a 401(k) fund. In presenting her argument to the court, the wife relied on the testimony of a “lifestyle analyst” hired to determine how much money it would take to sustain her lifestyle once the marriage was brought to a close. That amount was listed at $5 million per year, which is considerably more than she will receive.

The couple had a prenuptial agreement in place at the time of their marriage. When they met, she was still a teenager, and her husband was 25 years older than she and already established in his career. The wife was working as a sales clerk, and later earned an associate degree. During the course of the marriage, she contributed to the growth of the Cancer Treatment Centers of America.

In making his decision, the judge ruled that the wife’s contributions to her husband’s business ventures should be rewarded. However, he also noted that in the time since their separation, she has done little to further her own career prospects. The resolution of the case may not be all that she had hoped for, but it is certainly enough to support her financially for many years to come. For Florida spouses who are contemplating filing a high asset divorce, this case illustrates just how long such cases can last if the parties are unwilling or unable to settle.

Source: Chicago Tribune, “8-year divorce battle ends with multimillionaire’s ex-wife getting $6.5M, Porsche“, Amanda Marrazzo and Robert McCoppin, Sept. 14, 2017

Altering alimony due to employment change

If there is one thing that Florida residents can be certain of, it is the fact that change is inevitable. This is true when it comes to personal relationships, and also to matters of employment. As part of a divorce, many people are tasked with making alimony payments. When an unexpected job change leads to a reduction in income, meeting that financial obligation can be a challenge.

One way to address this issue is to re-approach the court and ask for a reduction in alimony. Doing so can be challenging, and it is important to present a strong legal argument. Courts approach alimony very seriously, and it is not always easy to have those payments reduced.

In order to reduce one’s monthly alimony obligation, it is necessary to provide the court with evidence of a significant change in one’s financial situation. In the case of a layoff or dismissal, it will be necessary to provide proof of the shift in employment status, as well as evidence of an ongoing search for new employment. If the income reduction is the result of a decrease in hours or new payment structure, gather documentation that clearly outlines those financial changes.

Approaching the Florida court to ask for a reduction in alimony requires a very careful approach. Courts consider these requests on a regular basis, and many motions are denied. Reaching a successful outcome requires demonstration of an employment change that is out of an individual’s control, coupled with sincere efforts to replace that lost income.

Source: nj.com, “Can I pay less alimony after job change? | Biz Brain“, Karin Price Mueller, Sept. 7, 2017

Preparing for contentious property division negotiations

Bringing a marriage to a close is never an easy matter. Many Florida spouses are prepared for an unpleasant experience as they prepare to broach the subject of divorce. For some, however, their spouse’s reaction far exceeds anything they could have imagined. When a divorce shows signs of being especially contentious, spouses must prepare for a rocky property division and child custody process.

There are some signs that indicate that a divorce may become more challenging than “normal.” The first indication lies in how one spouse reacts to the initial news that divorce is on the horizon. Most people will experience sadness or regret when they realize their marriage is coming to an end. When a spouse immediately reacts with anger, there is a chance that anger could soon turn into a quest for vengeance. That can lead to significant trouble when trying to negotiate the terms of the divorce.

Another indicator of potential trouble ahead is when one spouse refuses to acknowledge his or her role in the breakdown of the marriage. While a heartfelt acknowledgment of one’s wrongdoings that hindered the marriage may be too much to ask, a complete refusal to acknowledge any flaws or faults should be a serious red flag. That type of approach often signifies that one party plans to play the role of martyr throughout the divorce process.

Either of these signs should indicate a need to thoroughly prepare for what might be a contentious divorce. Florida spouses should make every effort to inform themselves of their legal rights and obligations when it comes to child custody and property division, because taking a collaborative or cooperative approach may not be an approach that the other party is willing to take. It is an unfortunate reality that some marriages will end more harshly than others, but being prepared is the best way to move through and beyond the divorce process.

Source: chicagonow.com, “Signs of a “Rougher than Average” Divorce“, Ann Cerney, Sept. 5, 2017