Wedding postponed because of the pandemic? Learn these common prenup terms in the meantime

Wedding postponed because of the pandemic? Learn these common prenup terms in the meantime

Many weddings have been postponed because of the pandemic, but in most Washington state counties, weddings can still take place at this time. However, couples who do decide to push through with their nuptials will have to follow stringent requirements on wedding ceremonies and wedding receptions. That includes oddly specific requirements regarding music during the ceremonies.

Either way, it’s still possible to get married, but only if a couple promises not just to love and to cherish but also to follow state-mandated COVID rules. And speaking of rules, a prenuptial agreement is filled with them. Partners who decide to sign a prenup would have to follow them, pandemic or no pandemic.

If you’re putting your wedding on hold because you want a brass band during the ceremony, a good way to bide your time is by familiarizing yourself with these prenup terms.

Marital property

These are possessions acquired or earned during a couple’s marriage. It’s pretty self- explanatory, but here are some examples anyway:

  • Kanye West and Kim Kardashian’s $30,000-bathroom sink (did anyone think these two would wash their hands on just any sink?) acquired during their 7-year marriage
  • Dennis Hopper and Victoria Duffy’s exercise bike, juicer, butcher’s block, asparagus tongs, and other one-of-a-kind household items
  • Exes Bethenny Frankel and Jason Hoppy’s New York apartment that neither wanted to abandon even when they were reportedly going through a high-conflict divorce
  • Russell Crowe’s breastplate in the sword-and-sandal epic Gladiator, acquired while he was married to ex-wife Danielle Spencer
  • The wagon wheel coffee table in When Harry Met Sally

In a community property state like Washington, “community property” may be used interchangeably with “marital property”. Community property generally includes interests in investments, retirement benefits, and the like. Here are some examples to more clearly illustrate the terms:

  • Throughout their 25-year marriage, Jeff Bezos and Mackenzie Scott accumulated a not small amount of wealth. The stratospheric income they have amassed at the time of their divorce — including assets linked to Amazon stocks and various other assets — were treated as community property and were divided as such.
  • Michael Douglas’s earnings from the movie Wall Street (1987) can be considered community property between him and his ex-wife Diandra Luker with whom he was married from 1977–2000. By contrast, the actor’s earnings from Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps (2010) were NOT earnings Ms. Luker was entitled to although she claimed she was.

Separate property

This refers to properties that belong to either spouse before getting married. These properties will continue to belong to their original owner after the marriage since they are not divided in a divorce. Any possession owned prior to marriage, an inheritance, or a gift received by one spouse are all considered separate property. Here are some examples:

  • Ashton Kutcher’s $800,000-per-episode payments from his stint in the TV show Two And A Half Men, which his ex-wife Demi Moore wanted a slice of but couldn’t have per California divorce laws
  • The rights to David Hasselhoff’s alias “The Hoff” (why on earth his wife would have wanted anything to do with it, we do not know)


This refers to non-marital funds mixing with marital funds in a single account, making it near impossible to determine which portions of the account are non-marital and marital.

For example, if Ashton Kutcher had inherited cash from his grandmother and put that into his and Ms. Moore’s joint account, Ms. Moore would have had no problem staking a claim to grandma Kutcher’s cash.

Spousal support

This refers to financial support one spouse receives from the other post-divorce. This term is particularly pertinent in divorce cases.

Here’s a classic Hollywood example: Lionel Richie’s ex-spouse Diane Alexander (a former waitress, dancer, and fashion designer) asking for spousal support worth around $300,000 to pay for her lifestyle essentials, which include plastic surgery, shoes and clothing, dermatology, and laser hair removal

Sunset clause/sunset provision

This is a stipulation in the agreement that indicates the time when the agreement will no longer be valid. A sunset clause may also define how much money a spouse will receive based on the number of years they’ve been married.

Here are some examples:

  • Katie Holmes and Tom Cruise’s prenup allegedly included a sunset provision stating that, after 11 years of marriage, the $3-million payments Ms. Holmes was entitled to for every year she was married to Mr. Cruise would be voided
  • The sunset clause in Elizabeth Taylor and her ex-husband Larry Fortenski's prenup stipulated that Mr. Fortenski would receive $1 million only after five years of marriage — which he did get
  • Charlotte York and Trey McDougal’s (from the HBO show Sex & the City) prenup stating that Charlotte would receive more McDougal money if she became pregnant with a boy than with a girl, which didn’t pan out because she and Trey had problems consummating

Buckingham, LaGrandeur, & Williams, family law attorneys in Seattle, Washington, are great at putting these prenup terms to use. Call our Renton offices – 425-250-9661