Oops, She Did It Again

Oops, She Did It Again

by Alice Graves, December 2009

Britney Spears has done it again. For the second time this year, she got married without a prenuptial agreement. The first time it cost her a few thousand dollars to get out of her one day marriage. Next time, the costs won't be nearly so minimal.

Britney Spears and Kevin Federline entered an agreement on September 16, 2004 saying they would participate in a "faux" marriage ceremony on September 18th. The agreement set the real marriage for October 16th.

However, this agreement was not a pre-nup because every contract requires what the law calls "consideration" - something given in exchange for something else. In this case, in exchange for Britney's hand, Kevin agreed to sign a pre-nup. Kevin and Britney's agreement states they have no intention of marrying on September 18th or of even getting a marriage license until after September 25th. They also declare to have a pre-nup in place before the actual marriage.

Under California law, a pre-nup must be signed at least seven days before the wedding. Kevin and Britney signed on September 14th, and their attorneys signed on the 17th. The marriage took place on the 18th. So even if it was a pre-nup, the seven-day waiting period doesn't apply.

In the meantime, Britney has been saying for months that she and Kevin don't need a pre-nup because they are marrying for love, not money. While this show of faith is sweet, her parents have strongly encouraged her to get a pre-nup. Not a bad idea considering she had to buy her own $40,000 diamond engagement ring.

On September 18th, the announcement came that the couple had actually married.

The press kept waiting for the marriage license to be filed and it appeared on October 8th. Kevin and Britney said they wanted to wait until their pre-nup was completed before filing the license. Oops. If the pre-nup was completed after the marriage, it isn't a pre-nup after all, is it? And there is no such thing as a post-nup. In the event of a divorce, Britney stands to lose a substantial sum since most of the assets are coming from her.

So, now we've established there is no pre-nup. But are they married?

According to the law, a written agreement takes precedence over an oral agreement. Kevin and Britney signed an agreement NOT to get married on September 18th. But do their verbal "I do's" on September 18th pre-empt the written contract? One legal authority suggests the validity of the marriage is governed by the state, not the contract. And the state encourages people to get married. Therefore, their vows on the 18th override the "fake marriage" agreement.

Poor Britney. Yet again, she has gotten married without a valid pre-nup. Who knows, maybe she'll get it right with husband #3.