Unconscionability: Why Dr. Dre Didn’t Cut Out Spousal Support from His Prenuptial Agreement
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Producer Dr. Dre has seen his marriage go on the rocks in 2020, with his wife Nicole Young filing for divorce in the summer. A lot of different issues relating to their assets and debts and support are up in the air, including $2M a month in spousal support payments that Nicole is requesting. What a mess!
One thing that is clearing the air, however, is the filing of a prenuptial agreement the parties signed (and Nicole claims Dr. Dre tore up) in December 2020. In the prenuptial agreement, the parties’ respective assets and debts, accrued up to the point of marriage and then separately during the marriage, remain the separate property of each party. This appears to be a slam dunk for Dr. Dre. However, the prenuptial agreement also leaves spousal support open, so that Nicole can collect spousal support as part of the divorce process. Why did Dr. Dre agree to this?
Dr. Dre likely knew that any spousal support waiver or severe limitation would be voided as unconscionable at the time the divorce was filed. A spousal support provision in a premarital agreement executed on or after January 1, 2002 is unenforceable if found to be unconscionable at the time of enforcement. (California Family Code § 1612(c).) Had Dr. Dre wanted to have language waiving or limiting spousal support, he would have had to make it severable so as not to affect the validity of the remaining, enforceable provisions.
Unconscionability is essentially unfairness in the extreme regarding the stations of the parties at the time of marriage and separation. For example, in Marriage of Facter, a spousal support waiver was deemed unconscionable at the time of enforcement because, among other things, the parties were married 16 years during which time Wife was a full-time mother/housewife and, with Husband’s consent, did not pursue education or seek employment, making it impossible for Wife to come close to replicating the marital standard of living. ((2013) 212 Cal.App.4th 967, 981-984.)
Another example is Marriage of Melissa, where a spousal support waiver was deemed unenforceable at the time of dissolution where, among other things, the parties were married 20 years and Wife stayed home with Husband’s consent to care for their disabled child for at least half the marriage. ((2012) 212 CA4th 598, 602-603.)
Dr. Dre was already famous and successful when he married Nicole. She wasn’t his financial equal and never would be. Cutting her out of spousal support would be unconscionable at the beginning of their marriage as well as at the end, since Dr. Dre would most likely have continued his record producing career for many years and banked his millions all throughout. This is exactly what happened.
Dr. Dre may not want to negotiate a spousal support award, either temporary or permanent, but that result was unavoidable. He could have threatened the viability of his entire prenuptial agreement had he tried to strong arm a spousal support waiver into the agreement. The prenuptial agreement is serving its purpose, however, by narrowing the issues for litigation.
If you would like to discuss how a prenuptial agreement can work for you, schedule a free initial consultation with the Law Offices of Jane Migachyov now.