For Better (But Not For Worse): Premarital Agreements May Offer Protection From Marital Debt

Photo of Kristine Ann Cummings

Prior to walking down the aisle in 2014, celebrity power-couple Kanye West and Kim Kardashian entered into a prenuptial agreement, a fact that was far from surprising given that Forbes pegged the parties’ respective net worths at $100 million and $40 million dollars, approximately. While prenuptial agreements for the ultra-rich are nothing new or noteworthy, it was West’s alleged financial woes, not his fortune, that recently made waves across the internet. The hip-hop mogul took to Twitter last month to bemoan that he was $53 million in “personal debt”.

West’s bizarre outbursts left many scratching their heads as to how the numbers added up, particularly in light of the fact that the artist earned more than $22 million last year and his wife a cool $55 million. Sources close to West quickly clarified that the $53 million dollar sum was not, in fact, “debt” in the traditional sense, but the total amount of personal funds that the artist had invested into his own companies.

West and Kardashian may be united in marriage; however the parties legally maintain very separate financial empires. West’s financial woes (and Kardashian’s unflappable composure in the very public face of same) illuminate how a well-drafted prenuptial agreement can not only protect a party’s assets from division with the other spouse in the event of divorce, but also offer protection from the other party’s creditors, liabilities and debt during the course of the marriage.

In the absence of a prenuptial agreement, West’s imprudent investments could very well have serious financial consequences for both parties. However, because the parties’ prenuptial agreement provides for the maintenance of separate finances, West is free to invest his assets as erratically as he desires – without fear that his financial imprudence may be viewed by a divorce court as dissipation of the marital estate. More importantly, Kardashian’s assets are fully protected from West’s creditors, who, in light of the prenuptial agreement, will not be able to make a claim on her empire even if West were to declare bankruptcy or otherwise default on his loans.

Although most couples could hope to make in a lifetime what West earns in a matter of months, even regular folks can benefit from the protection of a comprehensive prenuptial agreement, particularly in situations such as when one spouse owns his or her own business, brings in student loans or develops a problem with gambling. The West-Kardashian marriage often falls short when it comes to traditional family values; however it may be wise to take a page from their book when it comes to managing marital finances.


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