I’m getting divorced, do I have to go to Court?

News of Britney Spears’ pending divorce from her third husband, Sam Asghari, has been widely reported in the press. Sadly, only a year after their wedding, their marriage appears to be over, with Sam filing for divorce in Los Angeles. Here, McAlister Family Law’s Divorce and Finance Partner, Fiona Wood, looks at the divorce application and questions if Britney’s prenup will protect her.

It is understood that Sam has asked the court to provide him with “spousal support”, which is maintenance from Britney to meet Sam’s income needs whilst they sort out their divorce, and for her to provide him with money to pay his legal fees.

These applications made by Sam to the US court are the equivalent of making an application for interim maintenance and for a Legal Services Payment Order in England. If one spouse cannot meet their reasonable income needs during the divorce and the other spouse can afford to fund these, a judge can order the wealthier spouse to pay interim maintenance to the other spouse until a financial settlement is reached in their divorce.

It is also possible in England to make an application to court that your spouse provide you with money to fund your ongoing legal fees – known as a Legal Services Payment Order. To make this application successfully you have to show that you cannot afford to fund your own legal fees, you cannot obtain a commercial loan from two lenders to fund your legal fees and that your spouse can afford to pay them.

It is reported that Britney and Sam signed a prenuptial agreement before their wedding, to protect the wealth that Britney accumulated before they married.  Under Californian Law the prenuptial agreement is thought to be “ironclad”. However, there is speculation that Sam will try to renegotiate the terms of the prenuptial agreement by threatening to release embarrassing information about Britney.

The law in England regarding prenuptial agreements is different to that in other countries, but they are still an important way of protecting assets if you divorce. Here a prenuptial agreement is not automatically binding if a couple divorce. It is an important factor that the court will take into account when consider a fair financial settlement. The reported cases show that as long as both spouse’s needs can be met, the divorce court is likely to uphold the terms of their prenuptial agreement or if it does not fully uphold it, the presence of the prenuptial agreement will reduce the settlement received by one spouse from what they would have received if no prenuptial agreement had been signed.

If you or someone you know is affected by the issues raised in this blog post, we can provide you with expert legal advice. For more information, please get in touch with our specialist team at hello@mcalisterfamilylaw.co.uk


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