Well, if past is prologue, nothing in Hollywood lasts long. Certainly not marriages. But especially media-packaged celebrity “breakups” of seriously fickle stars who claim to despise the worldwide attention they attract.
With that in mind, seasoned matrimonial lawyers with plenty of experience dealing with media-saturated clients (think rap star Sean “Puffy” Combs, aka P. Diddy) have a little advice to offer, should this self-obsessed freak show known as “Bennifer” ever reverse course and decide to get hitched.
“In my opinion, the smartest thing they could do – since they are both major successes – is to clearly delineate that which has been acquired by each party up to this point, and take out any appreciation of those assets and set that aside,” said Donald Frank, a partner with the Blank Rome law firm in New York City and an expert in marriage and divorce law.
In other words, what J. Lo and Ben have reaped separately – houses, artwork, recording contracts, movie rights, jewelry – should stay separate once they head down the aisle, including any interest and royalties from them.
Another thing to be wary of is putting one person’s name on title to property they might acquire together in such celebrity locales as California or New York, Frank said.
“My knowledge in both states is that title is not controlling and that property acquired during the marriage can end up being divided, despite whose name is on the title,” Frank said. California is a “community property” state where what’s acquired during a marriage is generally shared“50/50” if divorce occurs, he said.
New York, meanwhile, is known as an “equitable distribution” state, where various factors, such as the the amount of money each partner sunk into the property in question, determines how it’s ultimately allocated, Frank said.
The value of someone’s celebrity is also taken into account in New York and other states when couples split up, though it is not a factor considered in California divorce courts, he said.
In other words, has J.Lo’s career soared during the marriage, while Affleck’s hunk image and movie-star drawing power sunk?How does that get split up if the marriage also tanks?
Estate rights and shares in pensions are also subjects that Frank recommends celebrities such as J. Lo and Ben consider in structuring a sound prenuptial agreement. Grim planning, but necessary in case one star dies unexpectedly.