Mr. Heidelberger says that these provisions may seem like good ideas when the agreement is signed, but spouses may regret them later.
Online PR News – 30-January-2015 – Chicago – Chris Rock is in the middle of a divorce from his wife of 18 years and it appears as though the comedian and his wife signed a prenuptial agreement before they were married. However, experts are saying that the agreement included a seldom-used tool called a "sunset provision." Elliot Heidelberger, a family lawyer in Chicago, says that the Rocks' divorce is a great example of why these provisions should be used with caution.
A sunset provision is a clause in a prenuptial agreement that ties a divorce settlement amount to an event or a period of time. For example, a spouse may be entitled to a certain amount of assets if the couple has children together or the settlement amount may increase as time passes.
As rumored to be the case in Mr. Rock's divorce, the prenuptial agreement may even become void after a certain amount of years in the marriage. In that case, the entire estate would be open to settlement, regardless of what was stated in the prenuptial agreement or how the assets were acquired.
Mr. Heidelberger says that these provisions may seem like good ideas when the agreement is signed, but spouses may regret them later. The Chicago family lawyer said, "Often individuals think that if they're married for 10, 15, or even 20 years, that they'll be married forever, so they think these provisions are harmless. The fact is, though, even couples who have been married for decades sometimes get divorced and then these provisions can be quite painful."
Mr. Heidelberger said he advises his clients to carefully consider the provision and why they are using it. He added, "Sometimes there are very legitimate reasons for using sunset provisions. However, people should consider them very carefully. It's impossible to predict the future. Just because something seems like a good idea today, doesn't mean it will be 20 years from now."