Perhaps the most high-profile, high-net-worth divorce of 2022 involved NFL star Tom Brady and his wife of 13 years, supermodel Gisele Bundchen, who announced they were divorcing.
Unlike the many contentious, high-asset celebrity divorces the public has watched play out over months or even years of bitter court battles, the Brady-Bundchen split seemed to finalize before anyone even knew it was happening.
On November 2, Page Six reported, “The supermodel filed for divorce in Glades County, Fla., on Friday, and the dissolution of their marriage was immediately over. Brady did not contest the filing.” A few days after their announcement, Brady referred to the divorce on his weekly podcast as “a very amicable situation.”
Brady, 45, quarterback of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, has spent 23 seasons in the NFL and amassed a fortune of approximately $333 million. Runway legend Bundchen, 42, is retired from the catwalk but is still one of the world’s all-time highest-paid models, with an estimated net worth of $400 million.
Both partners have remained quite discreet. In addition to much speculation as to why their marriage came apart, many have wondered: how did this power couple—the glitteriest of the glitterati, each highly wealthy in their own right—manage such a swift and smooth dissolution?
“There was an ironclad prenup set down before they married in 2009,” a source told Page Six. “They both have their separate business entities, so separating their wealth wasn’t that complicated in the end. The other major factor was dividing up their massive property portfolio,” which includes several Florida properties, plus homes in Costa Rica, the Bahamas, Montana, and New York. The court documents are sealed, but sources say they will share custody of their two children.
What does it mean to have an “ironclad prenup”?
A prenuptial agreement or “prenup” is a contract that soon-to-be spouses enter before marrying. Although it may seem unromantic or indicative of a lack of trust between the partners—and it certainly can be a sensitive topic to broach—a prenuptial agreement is very smart and practical. It provides a road map that simplifies the dissolution process if the marriage does not last. A prenup protects each spouse’s financial assets and property in case of a legal separation or divorce. It helps avoid messy, expensive, time-consuming litigation by ensuring that the division of all property and liabilities is predetermined.
As delicate and deeply personal as it may be to iron out “what happens if we divorce?” before you even marry, it’s typically easier to do at this stage than when you’ve reached the brink of divorce. Everyone is hurt, angry, and unable to reason.
It’s crucial to undertake the process with great care and consideration. The goal is to balance the creation of your marriage—hopefully a happy, fulfilling, lifelong relationship—with a safety net if it doesn’t work out.
It is also vital that both parties work with qualified independent legal counsel to help them draft a valid agreement. Only a prenup that adheres to fairness, honesty, and accuracy standards will stand the test of time and be enforceable or “ironclad.”
A prenup will:
- Identify the property brought into the marriage/domestic partnership by each partner
- Determine how income and assets acquired during the marriage/domestic partnership will be characterized,
- Decide who has the legal right to control separate property in the event of divorce
It’s also important to know that:
- Each party must fully disclose all income, assets, and liabilities—the agreement will include provisions for an enormous scope of financial issues that require scrutiny.
- The agreement must be fair and balanced and not leave either party without means of support.
- The agreement must be drafted without threats, coercion, or undue influence.
If you’re considering a prenuptial agreement, speak with a family law attorney with expertise in this area. The skilled and caring attorneys at SFLG are highly experienced in all financial matters relating to marriage or domestic partnership and divorce—including pre-and post-nuptial agreements and high-asset and high-conflict dissolutions. We believe that prenuptial agreements are a prudent step, but we also understand the seriousness of the decision. We encourage a seven-day reflection period after drafting the agreement to ensure that both parties are confident and satisfied with the contract before signing.
By Debra Schoenberg