Why Miley Cyrus was wise to force Liam Hemsworth to sign a pre-nup

Another celebrity marriage, another divorce. This one involves singer Miley Cyrus and Hunger Games actor Liam Hemsworth who have split just seven months after tying the knot. The couple are said to expect an “easy breezy” divorce, mainly due to the pre-nuptial agreement they entered into ahead of the wedding. In this blog, I look at some of the benefits of pre-nups.

The fact that a pre-nup exists and the couple have no children means the divorce is likely to be finalised relatively quickly

When Miley Cyrus handed husband-to-be Liam Hemsworth a pre-nuptial agreement to sign before their Malibu wedding, he was said to be deeply offended. It led to what one friend described as an "explosive fight" and Cyrus feared he was going to end the relationship over it.

It looks like a wise decision by Cyrus. The couple duly signed a pre-nup, which provides that each party is to keep the individual income earned during their marriage.

Cyrus is estimated to be worth around $160m (according to website Celebrity Net Worth), a sum that dwarfs Hemsworth's estimated £21.4m. It's probably safe to assume that the pre-nup also states that Hemsworth has no claim to any part of the fortune Cyrus brought to the marriage (and vice versa).

The fact that a pre-nup exists and the couple have no children means the divorce is likely to be finalised relatively quickly, as clearly each party's needs will be met from their own financial assets.

No celebrity divorce would be complete without some wrinkle. In this case, it was the statement announcing the split that said the couple will remain "dedicated parents to all of the animals they share". The couple allegedly have 13 animals between them: nine dogs, three cats and a pig.

As I wrote about in a recent blog, some of the fiercest divorce battles I have seen have been fought over pets.

Pre-nups are not just about money

Details of the Cyrus/Hemsworth pre-nup are scant and it would be interesting to know if it specifies how the pets are to be looked after post-divorce. This highlights an important feature of pre-nups: they are not only about existing wealth or income acquired during a couple's time together, although they can be.

A pre-nup can deal with any number of issues, including (but not limited to):

  • Existing assets – if one party has children from a previous marriage, they may want to exclude specific assets from the marital pot so that they pass to the children on death rather than to their spouse on divorce
  • Specific assets – a party may want to exclude certain assets from the marital pot such as jewellery, a car or other collection, or works of art, especially if they are difficult to divide up
  • Business assets ­­– if one party owns a business or a share in a business they may want to exclude this to avoid the risk of their livelihood being affected if they divorce

A pre-nup can also deal with anticipated events such as an inheritance one party expects to receive, or a future bonus earned over a number of years before the marriage.I should point out that unlike in the US, pre-nuptial agreements (and post-nuptial agreements signed during marriage) are not legally binding in the UK. Having said that, judges in the UK are required to take them into account when making financial orders on divorce.

They will only do this if certain requirements are met. These are:

  • Both parties must receive independent legal advice on the terms of the pre-nup and be under no pressure to sign it
  • Both must make full and frank disclosure of their assets
  • The pre-nup should be entered into a reasonable period before the wedding, at least 28 days is advisable
  • The agreement must be fair
If you would like to discuss making a pre-nuptial or post-nuptial agreement, please contact me, Mark Goldstein, at [email protected]