John Cena Wrestles Over Prenup in Divorce
The effectiveness of a prenuptial agreement that wrestler John Cena signed 16 days before he got married will determine how much his soon-to-be ex-wife will get in their divorce.
WWE star Cena and his wife are splitting over “irreconcilable differences” in Florida.
“In this case, it appears the preliminary issues will be the interpretation of the prenuptial agreement, the application to the parties’ property, assets and income, whether the agreement itself is enforceable or not, which we always consider, and in the mean time addressing the temporary needs of our client in conjunction with and in spite of certain terms of the premarital agreement,” says Raymond Rafool, the attorney for Cena’s wife, Liz Huberdeau.
Contrary to popular belief, a prenuptial agreement doesn’t mean an end to the legal wrangling over assets. “If you can plan that you’re going to get a divorce, which is something we never want to do, it’s always better to have a prenuptial agreement. But does the prenup agreement end all issues at divorce?” Rafool explains that laws and circumstances change, and that there could be errors in the draft.
In the event of a divorce, a prenup will be carefully scrutinized by both sides, looking for areas of weakness that can be exploited.
“The issue is one, the interpretation of the prenuptial agreement — what are the terms meant to provide or protect? Two, did they cover all the necessary waivers?” he says. In other words, prenuptial agreements are interpreted literally, so if they don’t expressly state what the terms are, regular equable distribution laws will apply. “Three, was it voluntarily entered into or under duress? Is it fair and reasonable? In addition to that, there are temporary support and attorney issues.”
Wrestling fans will have to wait a long time to see what happens in John Cena’s case, but in the meantime, the couple has kept the reasons for their split under wraps. “What John has on his mind only John knows, so I can’t give you any other reasons. At this time my client is going to maintain everybody’s privacy.”
Family attorneys encourage prenuptial agreements for anyone bringing assets into a marriage.
“The purpose of a prenup is to fix and establish the rights of each spouse as to the division of property and/or support upon death or divorce,” according to family law attorney Tadd Yearing.
A marriage is a legally binding contract, so it makes sense to have an agreement drawn up before the big day to make sure both parties have the same expectations. And as Yearing points out, more people get married later in life, “after having already established careers and accumulated sometimes significant asset portfolios … For people entering into a second or third marriage, and who as the primary breadwinner earn significant income, they may wish to limit their exposure to lengthy, and costly, litigation over alimony.”
Prenuptial agreements can also shield a spouse from taking on their partner’s debts.
“Since it is good planning, and with a desire to limit costs of divorce, there is no reason that prenuptial agreements should not become more commonplace – and lose some of the negative connotations that they invoke,” Yearing adds.
Soon-to-be spouses should lay all assets — and liabilities – on the table. Yearing outlines the following steps in creating a prenup.
- To be valid, the agreement must be in writing; it’s critical the parties consult with independent legal counsel, or waive their right to do so in writing.
- There must be bargaining, or exchange of the terms.
- The agreement must be entered into voluntarily, without coercion, and the parties must represent their competence to enter the agreement.
- Once entered into, it’s difficult to set aside the agreement, although it’s possible in some states. Each state has its own laws concerning prenups.