Dr. Dre files for divorce: Wife seeks $2 million a month in spousal maintenance despite entering into prenuptial agreement.
After 24 years of marriage, Dr. Dre (real name, Andre Young) and his wife, Nicole Young, are heading their separate ways after Nicole Young filed for divorce in June this year. The pair were married in May 1996 and share two adult children together.
During the course of their marriage, Dr. Dre continued his successful career as a music producer, as well as creating the Beats Electronics brand which sold to Apple for $3 billion several years ago. As a result, Dr. Dre is estimated to be worth around $800 million.
Two of the big issues which the couple appear to be facing, aside from dividing the vast wealth accumulated during the marriage, are that there is a dispute over the existence of a valid prenuptial agreement, as well as a dispute over Young’s claim for $2 million a month in spousal maintenance which includes claims for:
- $10,000 a month for laundry and cleaning;
- $135,000 a month for clothes;
- $60,000 a month for education (tuition and living expenses);
- $900,000 a month for entertainment;
- $125,000 a month for charitable contributions;
- $100,000 a month for a mortgage; and
- $20,000 a month for telephone, cell phone and email costs.
In filing her divorce application, Young made no reference to there being any prenuptial agreement with her husband, instead requesting the Court’s assistance in seeking spousal maintenance as well as the division of the couple’s multimillion-dollar property portfolio. In response, Dr. Dre stated that any division of the couple’s property should be based on the terms of their prenuptial agreement.
In relation to the prenuptial agreement, Young stated the following:
“I was extremely reluctant, resistant and afraid to sign the agreement and felt backed into a corner. Given the extraordinary pressure and intimidation by Andre, I was left with no option but to hire a lawyer (of course, with the help of Andre’s team of professionals) and unwillingly signed the agreement very shortly before our marriage,”
Young went on to explain how in her position the agreement was voided two years later:
“Andre acknowledged to me that he felt ashamed he had pressured me into signing a premarital agreement and he tore up multiple copies of the agreement in front of me… Since the day he tore up the agreements, we both understood that there was no premarital agreement, and that it was null and void.”
The difficulty for Young is twofold. Firstly, prenuptial agreements are binding in the USA, and secondly, the tearing up of an agreement is unlikely to be seen as sufficient to void it – this would require a similarly binding document to be drawn up and entered into.
Pre-Nuptial Agreements: England and Wales
While prenuptial agreements are binding in the USA, the situation in England and Wales is different. Despite the leading case of Radmacher v Granatino highlighting that such agreements should be treated as having “magnetic importance”, they remain open to challenge and are not, by default, legally binding.
In the event a husband or wife wishes to challenge a prenuptial agreement that they have entered into the Court can take an investigative approach to the circumstances surrounding the agreement, as well as the terms of the agreement itself.
Guidelines have been developed and such an agreement may carry little or no weight before an English Court if any of the following circumstances were found to apply:
- Where there is a child of the family born.
- Where the agreement is unenforceable i.e. it attempts to lay an obligation on a third party who has not agreed in advance.
- Where one or both of the couple did not receive independent legal advice before entering into the agreement.
- Where the court considers that the enforcement of the agreement would cause significant injustice (to one or both of the couple or any child).
- Where one or both of the couple have failed to give full financial disclosure of assets and income before the agreement was made.
- Where the agreement is signed very shortly before the wedding. Previously, the guidance suggested at least 21 days before but the Law Commission have since recommended at least 28 days before.
- Where there is evidence that one party was placed under undue pressure to sign the agreement (this may be linked with the timing of the signature and evidence about what legal advice was taken).
- Prenuptial agreements are also always subject to any future change in law.
Ultimately, if it can be shown that the agreement was entered into voluntarily by both parties, who were both fully aware of the implications, received independent legal advice and disclosed their true financial situation to each other, and on the basis the agreement was not manifestly unfair, under the law of England and Wales such an agreement is likely to be upheld by the Court.
Prenuptial agreements are a complex area of law and it is vital that full legal advice is sought. If you are considering entering into a prenuptial agreement, at Maguire Family Law we are able to ensure that the agreement is drafted in accordance with the procedural guidelines outlined above and provide you with full advice on your legal options.