Concept for - Thank U, Next: Ariana Grande and the ease of a pre-nuptial agreement

The divorce and financial arrangements of singer, Ariana Grande, and her ex-husband, Dalton Gomez, is splashed across the headlines this week.

The background

Ariana and Dalton, who married in May 2021, separated over a year ago and started divorce proceedings in September 2023. These have reportedly been resolved with relative ease, largely thanks to a Pre-Nuptial Agreement entered into by the parties before their marriage.

At the time of their wedding, Ariana Grande was reported by Forbes to be worth $72 million dollars. This is now rumoured to be in the region of $240 million.  Her ex-husband, Dalton Gomez, was unknown to the greater public at the time. He was well established in the luxury housing market and is thought to have had a good asset base, though by no means comparable to that of Ariana.

The divorce settlement, which is reported to have been agreed back in October and just awaiting approval of the Court, provided for Ariana to pay Dalton a one-off lump sum payment of $1.25 million (£980,000) and contribute towards his legal fees up to $25,000. Their family home was to be sold with each receiving 50% of the proceeds. There is no provision for spousal maintenance.  This is significantly favourable to Ariana – who gets to keep around 99% of her assets.

Law in England and Wales

In England and Wales, the starting point on divorce is for there to be an equal split of the matrimonial assets. This can be departed from, or non-matrimonial assets called upon, if one spouse requires more to meet their needs. Needs are not set at a single level. They will be determined on a case-by-case basis with reference to the standard of living enjoyed during the relationship. In the case of a celebrity marriage, these needs are likely to be considered high. Indeed, we saw this in the divorce of Paul McCartney and Heather Mills in 2008 – with Heather’s ‘need’ for flowers, food and wine being placed at £30,000 per year by the Judge (before inflation).

A Nuptial Agreement moves away from this starting point.  Providing the document has been entered into freely, with full understanding and will not result in one party being unable to meet their needs (which can be defined within the Agreement rather than be left to the discretion of the Court), then it will be upheld. This can see finances on divorce resolved with relative ease, with each spouse knowing what to expect and little room being left for disagreement. Much like we’ve seen with Ariana Grande and Dalton Gomez.

Seeking Advice for a pre-nuptial agreement

Specialist advice is key and we have a team of experienced divorce lawyers who prepare and advise on pre and post-nups regularly. If you need advice, please contact our Family Law team who will be happy to help.