Famous and influential people divorce all the time. Some divorce for very public reasons, and others for private and personal reasons. With the recent announcement that Al and Tipper Gore have separated coupled with famously high divorce rates in the United States in general, many people now accept the very “inconvenient truth” that marriage, even a long and seemingly happy one, often is not sustainable.
Divorcing couples must consider many things. The primary considerations, outside of custody and visitation, are financial. While devoted to public service, the Gores still boast a net worth of nearly $100 million. And, like other divorcing couples, they will have to face splitting houses, cars, furniture, investments and retirement plans. The Gores may face this challenge as amicably as they faced their announcement. However, for many Americans, the absence of a marital contract, such as a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement, can make separation of property a nightmare.
A prenuptial agreement, sometimes called an antenuptial or premarital agreement, is a contract entered into prior to marriage that defines the financial and legal rights of a couple should the couple choose to divorce. A postnuptial agreement, as its name implies, is a contract a married couple enters into that defines their rights, both legal and financial, in the event of death or divorce. A postnuptial agreement is similar to a separation agreement in some respects, but they are not the same. A separation agreement is created upon intent to end the marriage and can terminate upon reconciliation.
Each type of marital contract has its benefits. Prenuptial agreements are designed to protect previously owned assets and inheritances or the rights of children born from prior marriages. With postnuptial agreements, couples may seek to protect separate property that was acquired during the marriage. And in some cases, a husband or wife may be required to have a postnuptial agreement if their spouse enters into a partnership with others.
It is believed that the Gores did not have a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement. Given that these marital contracts were not as socially accepted in 1970 as they are today, this is not a surprise. These agreements have their benefits, though, which include saving time and reducing litigation cost. As the Gores prove that divorce does not have to be a public spectacle or tabloid fodder, many people are uplifted by the fact that some face divorce with the hopes that relationships and families can survive it.