Can You Afford A Divorce?

Can you Afford a Divorce? Even the rich and famous seem to struggle with the question, as made news recently when actor Adrian Pasdar filed in court seeking some $60,000 in monthly support payments from his estranged wife, Dixie Chicks singer, Natalie Maines. The actor reported making some $150,000 per year, but incurring debt in excess of that trying to maintain a lifestyle for himself and the couple’s two children during the divorce and custody litigation. While Ms Maines contends that Mr. Pasdar’s income is almost three times what he acknowledged, she has reportedly not disputed his claim that her annual income is some two million dollars or more.

More pointedly though, Pasdar has now asserted that Maines is over-litigating the case, hoping that he will be forced to accept less favorable settlement terms than he otherwise would, simply because he is “drowning” in the protracted litigation that he cannot afford. Perhaps excepting only where the decimal points are positioned in defining the financial terms involved in the case, the issue is surely familiar to many who have been, who are, or who anticipate becoming a party to a divorce case. For his part, Adrian Pasdar has said that, notwithstanding the couple’s Prenuptial Agreement, in which is written that “neither party shall be entitled to receive alimony, maintenance, or interim spousal or other support from the other party in the event of a dissolution of the marriage,” to deny him spousal support would be “unconscionable” in the present circumstances of the case.

As the Pasdar case illustrates, what may be conscionable years down the road can be difficult or impossible to know at the point of signing a prenuptial agreement. Moreover, Pennsylvania courts are disinclined even to entertain the argument over whether a prenuptial agreement is “unconscionable in the present circumstances,” so long as it was entered into voluntarily, there was a fair and reasonable disclosure of the property and the financial obligations of each party to the other before it was entered into, and both parties expressly waived any further financial disclosure. At the same time though, in the absence of a prenuptial agreement waiving such support, the laws and rules in Pennsylvania provide for spousal support and/or Alimony Pendente Lite (APL) based on a calculated formula, beginning with the incomes of the two parties. This financial support to the lower-earning spouse during the divorce process can mitigate or neutralize the “drowning” effect of the other party over-litigating the case.

Another cautionary point taken from Pasdar and Maines. is that they did not begin their case in the contentious posture it has recently assumed. To the contrary, after filing for divorce in June of 2017, they stayed out of court as they jointly stated their intention to keep things confidential and amicable. Accordingly, Pasdar did not file for spousal support until very recently. It is likely that he did so for all the reasons so many individuals face in these situations, when he realized that the real question is not whether he could afford a divorce, but if he could afford NOT to divorce. As Adrian Pasdar and Natalie Maines would likely agree, when it comes to considering a marriage or its dissolution, you may benefit from consulting an attorney.
A side note of particular interest to practitioners is how the California court handling the divorce action (Los Angeles) will treat the Prenuptial Agreement drawn in and “governed by” Tennessee law.
A side note of more general interest may be that Adrian Pasdar’s father was a thoracic surgeon of some note here in the Philadelphia area.

The lawyers at LaMonaca Law can assist you in any family law situation.  LaMonaca Law is a family law firm that will educate you, protect your rights and develop a successful plan to achieve your desired goals.  Call LaMonaca Law at 610-892-3877 to schedule an initial consultation.

About the author

About Lawrence Welsh

Lawrence C. (Larry) Welsh joined the firm in 2003 after five years of practice with the Delaware County Public Defender’s Office. Native to Lansdowne in Delaware County where he attended public schools, Larry graduated from St. Joseph’s College (in its pre-University days) and taught school briefly before entering the hospitality industry and working his way through hotels, restaurants and resorts in four states and the District of Columbia. As a graduate of Villanova University School of Law, Larry now focuses primarily on the firm’s family law practice along with other areas of the Law. Larry handles a full range of domestic relations matters throughout the five-county southeastern Pennsylvania area and looks forward to expanding the firm’s practice, especially in the family-law field, into New Jersey where he is one of three members of the firm (along with Gregory P. LaMonaca and Christopher R. Mattox) admitted to practice.