We Want Pre-Nup: Why Women Must Think About Protecting Their Assets

by Kenya Carlton

Beyond gracing our television and movies screens with their beauty and talent, what do Tasha Smith, Sherri Shepherd, and Halle Berry have in common? Manimony.

In 1970, the Uniform Marriage and Divorce act passed a law granting both sexes the ability to collect alimony. Compared to women, only a small percentage of men received this type of support, but in the last four years the numbers have risen high enough to garner a title: Manimony.
Not a stranger to manimony, Sherri Shepherd’s first husband, Jeff Tarpley, was awarded spousal and child support even though he was unfaithful in the relationship. Remarried in 2011 to Lamar Sally, Shepherd is once again facing a divorce with Sally challenging the prenuptial agreement. As of this post, Sally is asking for spousal and child support for their son, who was born by a surrogate and does not share Shepherd’s DNA.

Could stay-at-home dads be causing this phenomenon, or is the recent dip in the economy to blame? According to USA Today, 28% of women outearn their husbands. While women as a whole earn less than men, African American women earn even less than their white counterparts. Could the impending weight of spousal support break them?

With black women graduating at a higher rate from university than men, how does this bode for the future of African American unions?

Known for her longevity on the Hollywood scene, Halle Berry’s ethereal beauty didn’t stop her from having to pay the father of her daughter, Gabriel Aubry, $16,000.00 a month. With her net worth clocking in at a whooping 80 million; unlike non-celebrity women this small amount of support won’t make a dent in her annual income. Of course this didn’t stop Berry from petitioning the courts to lower her payment on the claim that Aubry is an able-body adult who can go to work and support himself.

What should be a simple cut and dry legal proceeding quickly turns into bitterness and hurt feelings. Of course men have experienced the weight of this responsibility for years, and many would even consider this turnabout a price for feminism. The American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers stated that prenuptial agreements are on the rise by 46% and more women are requesting them, but is it enough to stop the fairer sex from having to pay up? A legal binding contract that should hold up in court can be broken.
In any given interview, Tasha Smith, whose fame came from Why Did I Get Married, could be seen gushing about her marriage of four years to Keith Douglas. As of last month, a restraining order had been placed on the popular actress to stay at least 100 yards away from her husband, along with an order of temporary spousal support. Smith must pay Douglas $50k for him to maintain the lifestyle he has been accustomed to until a permanent order can be established by the judge.

For years men have pointed out the double standard that the court system imposes on them, could Manimony be the leverage they need to change the law? If people continue to step blindly into love will the legality of marriage mean big business for the courtroom? Should women tread lightly in case this latest trend becomes our new normal?

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