As a blog that normally focuses on separation and the implications of divorce, it is nice from time to time to examine happier occasions, such as the union between two individuals.
This week, George Clooney, actor, human rights activist, and infamous heartbreaker proposed to his girlfriend, human rights lawyer, Amal Alamuddin, 36.
Clooney, 52, was married once previously to actress Talia Balsam from 1989 until their divorce in 1993. Since that time, however, Clooney has been in a series of long-term relationships but has never wed.
For a while there, it seemed the female heartthrob would never marry again; Clooney even went so far as to announce same during an interview in 2007.
Now, however, it seems the actor has changed his mind. And although neither Alamuddin nor Clooney appear to be too overly consumed with money, it will be interesting to see how they organize their financial affairs and whether the duo intends to sign a marriage contract or pre-nuptial agreement. After all, Clooney's net worth is estimated to be a hefty $200 million.
Interestingly, there are additional considerations when one marries later in life. Generally speaking, most people get married sometime in their 20's or early 30's. As such, it is unusual for people to have significant assets as of the date of marriage. Most people make their fortune during their marriage resulting in an increased net worth on the date of separation.
However, when people get married later in life, they often will already have substantial assets as of the date of marriage. Moreover, if they retire shortly after the wedding, they may even have a lower net worth on the date of separation. Consequently, someone who gets married in their late 50s, for example, may end up with negative net family property.
While it is unlikely that Clooney will retire any time soon, or that he will stop bringing in millions for his films, in less unique circumstances one might expect someone in Alamuddin's position to owe an equalization payment. If, for instance, Clooney had more modest means, and had assets amounting to $1 million on the date of marriage and then decided to retire at the age of 60, Alamuddin, who is only 36, would continue to work for at least 30 years. If the parties separated after 20 years of marriage, it would not be surprising if Alamuddin's net family property was higher because Clooney would be able to deduct his $1 million marriage date assets. Accordingly, even if Clooney's net worth was higher than Alamuddin's overall, he may still be owed an equalization payment if Alamuddin made more money during the marriage. Moreover, if Clooney were not worth as much, Alamuddin could be looking at indefinite spousal support.
Thus, parties considering marrying later in life should consider entering into an Agreement that addresses these issues, particularly if there is a significant age gap between the parties. Often, there are other considerations for couples entering into their second or third marriages that can also be addressed by way of contract.