Chris Pratt and Anna Faris’ recent announcement to separate after
8 years of marriage raises the potential financial disaster they, and
similar high-income earning couples could face when separating without
a pre-nuptial agreement. While it’s unclear whether the couple had
a prenuptial agreement, Pratt is one of Hollywood’s highest paid
actors and Faris reportedly makes $125,000 off each episode of her sitcom,
“Mom,” which currently just wrapped its’ 5th season.
Indiana Law Presumes an Equal 50/50 Split
While the couple is based out of Los Angeles, California, and divorce laws
vary by state, Indiana law presumes an equal division of assets. If the
couple were to divorce in Indiana, without a pre-nuptial agreement in
place, the courts would consider all their assets and all their liabilities
and presume they should be divided in half. Indiana takes the “one
pot” approach, which means everything gets thrown in—even
property that was brought into the marriage or property that is titled
in one party’s name only.
Keep in mind, though, this is a presumption and when appropriate evidence
is submitted to rebut that presumption, the courts can divide a marital
estate in a manner they deem just and reasonable. Pratt earned roughly
$26 million in 2016 alone, which is a hefty sum to divide in half. If
he hopes to keep more than half of those earnings for himself, the burden
would rest with him to prove to an Indiana court why a portion should
be kept separate.
Arguing Against the Presumption
Here’s a look at a few factors an Indiana court can consider when
deciding whether to divide property in an unequal manner:
The contribution, financial
or otherwise, each spouse made in acquiring the property,
- Whether the property was acquired before the marriage or through inheritance or gift,
- The economic circumstances of each spouse at the time property is divided,
- The conduct of either party as it relates to dissipation of their property, and/or
- The earnings and earning ability of each party.
Even though Indiana law says a party can rebut the presumption of an equal
division, a party similarly in Pratt’s situation could have a hard
time arguing in an Indiana court that his wife shouldn’t receive
an equal share of that $26 million. Here’s a few potential reasons why:
- Faris’ sitcom is recorded out of Warner Brother’s studio in
Los Angeles, the couple’s home base. If Pratt spent significant
time away from home recording movies, and if the same issues were before
an Indiana court, Faris could argue she made equal contributions to the
marital estate. An Indiana court could consider Faris’ own financial
contributions, but also whether she stayed home taking care of the marital
residence and the couple’s son while Pratt was away, which inevitably
played a role in his ability to be part of those big box-office hits.
- While Pratt is reportedly the higher earner, Faris was the more notable
celebrity at the time of the marriage, which means she could have easily
brought more earnings into the marriage at the outset.
- Faris’ earnings are certainly no chump change, but the significant
difference between their income could factor in towards an unequal division
of property in Faris’ favor.
Even despite all these arguments, the more a couple’s funds were
commingled, the harder it gets for a court to parse out and these arguments
to separate financials begins to weaken. Prenuptial agreements are an
easy way for high-earning couples to bypass these types of financial and
property disputes that inevitably arise during a divorce and give parties
greater flexibility to make their own decisions about what happens to
their own property.
Hollingsworth & Zivitz, P.C., our team has the experience, the understanding, and the compassion to
assist with your family law needs. If you have questions or concerns regarding
prenuptial agreements, divorce, custody, mediation, collaborative law
or any other family law concerns, please contact our firm at
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