Mariah Carey and James Packer: the Unsigned Marriage Contract

As reported late last week by TMZ, Mariah Carey has demanded that her ex-fiancé, Australian billionaire James Packer, pay her $50 million dollars following the couple's separation in September during a holiday in Greece. Sources have reported to TMZ that Mariah believes James has cost her millions of dollars by convincing her to uproot her life in New York City to move to Los Angeles, and because she was forced to cancel the South American portion of her tour due to stress and traumatization from the incident which lead to the breakdown of their relationship. The details of this alleged incident remain unknown. Mariah is claiming $50 million because that is the amount she states she would have received if they had signed their prenuptial agreement. However, the couple didn't sign their prenuptial agreement, nor did they ever actually get married. The questions remains, what are Mariah's family law entitlements?

Since the Agreement was never executed, it is not valid, and therefore, not legally binding. Mariah has no claim in this regard. The parties are free to enter a Separation Agreement which would include such terms, but James is not under a legal obligation to agree to pay her the sum she is requesting by virtue of the unsigned contract. It should be noted that TMZ has updated its report following comment from James's representatives, who claim that the "prenuptial offer is grossly inaccurate and completely untrue".

Where Mariah may attempt to seek some relief is with regards to spousal support, however, such a claim will also pose significant challenges for Mariah as the relationship lasted less than two years, and the couple cohabited for an even shorter period of time, with no children of their relationship. Mariah may not even be able to bring a claim, as the relationship may not meet the threshold for being a common law relationship in the relevant jurisdiction. In Ontario, this threshold is three years, or alternatively, if the parties have lived in a relationship of some permanence and have a biological or adopted child. Accordingly, under Ontario law, Mariah would not be entitled to spousal support.

Mariah may choose to seek relief in a civil action, to which we cannot comment. However, what is clear is that she will face significant challenges if she attempts to establish any family law entitlement to the terms of the non-executed marriage contract or make a claim for spousal support.

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