When Chris Rock, P. Diddy, and Jane Fonda wanted a divorce, they knew who to call—John Mayoue, the Atlanta-based divorce attorney of the stars. “I get the opportunity to meet wonderful people at their worst,” he says. (Learn about the financial costs of infidelity here.)
His latest client? Former NBA star Allen Iverson’s ex-wife Tawanna Iverson. And she wants her ex to release the names of every woman he’s ever slept with to the court. Why? If he can afford multiple alleged mistresses, then he should be able to afford child support, which she claims he’s not paying.
While your infidelities might not make the national news (think: Anthony Weiner), here are Mayoue’s tips for how to steer clear of a marriage scandal:
Sign a pre-nup
Stats are stats: your marriage is a toss up, and pre-nups determine the division of assets, and in some cases, the allocation of spousal support—regardless of reason you split, Mayoue says. So the question isn’t whether to sign a pre-nup—it’s how do you discuss it without her calling off the wedding?
Bring in a third party right away. “Do it in pre-marital counseling,” he says. Seventy-three percent of divorce attorneys saw an increase in prenuptial agreements between 2005 and 2010, according to a recent American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyer study. “Pre-nups are for everyone now,” he says. Since half of marriages end in divorce, think of it as insurance.
Know the Law
Adultery is illegal in 23 states. But while criminal laws remain, you don’t have to worry about wearing a scarlet letter. “They’re left over from a bygone era,” Mayoue says. “And no one’s bothered to take them off the books.” However, depending on your state, cheating can affect spousal support and in some states, division of property, Mayoue says.
“One of the vows of marriage is to be faithful,” Mayoue says. If you’re spending money on lavish gifts for your mistress, and not providing for your kids, that information becomes relevant in court. It can be used as evidence to prove that you can afford to pay for spousal support but you are choosing not to. (Find out the No. 1 reason cheating is bad.)
Privacy can go out the window
Those sext-messages, receipts of gifts, and email exchanges that you wouldn’t want anyone to ever know about? They’re fair game in the courtroom, says Mayoue. And what’s fair game in the courtroom is public record, meaning your coworkers, employees and—more importantly—children may be able to read it, Mayoue says. Consider what your employer will think if he sees something you may not want him to—you could end up single and jobless.