Lessons learned in the Robert De Niro divorce

As our readers likely know, Hollywood A-lister, Robert De Niro and his estranged wife, Grace Hightower, have been divorcing for years now. As the property division process has unfolded, the two have argued back-and-forth over what Ms. Hightower is entitled to from their decades-long marriage. And, a recent decision has shown how complicated that process can be, and how important pre-nuptial agreements are to high-asset divorces.

The recent finding

According to the Manhattan appellate court judge, Ms. Hightower’s motion sought to attain half of Mr. De Niro’s $500 million in business and acting earnings, along with many assets, like his many restaurants. The court denied this motion. However, it was not all good news for Mr. De Niro. He still must pay his ex-wife $6 million for a new home and $1 million a year in alimony until his ex-wife remarries or until one of them dies.

Why did the judge not allow for a splitting of assets?

Simply put, it is because of the couple’s 2004 prenuptial agreement. In that agreement, it mandated that Mr. De Niro’s “income earned during the marriage and other business assets acquired during that time are his separate property.” Accordingly, in February, Manhattan Supreme Court Judge, Matthew Cooper, upheld that prenuptial agreement.

What can we take away from this?

Although Colorado and California divorces are different, the property division process is always contentious. Second, the key to Mr. De Niro’s divorce success has been the couple’s prenuptial agreement. For high-income and business owners getting married, a prenuptial agreement should, at least, be considered. And, finally, even after a decade’s long marriage, divorce is still an option, but it is usually a fight.