Last month, fans were surprised to learn Manganiello, 46, and the Emmy-nominated actress, 51, were divorcing after more than seven years of marriage. Both acknowledged they have a prenup in place in court filings. Vergara is asking the court to protect her assets by honoring that agreement — which should come as no surprise. In 2020, the Modern Family star was the highest-paid actress in Hollywood, according to Forbes, raking in $43 million.
Vergara is seeking to retain all of her earnings from before she wed Manganiello, as well as any of her own income from while they were married, reports claim. The sum should be high. After Modern Family ended in 2020, the actress went on to be a judge on America’s Got Talent. Aside from money, Vergara also asked that items like jewelry, artwork and “other personal effects” remain hers, according to People.
“Sofia has put Joe on notice that she expects him to follow the terms of their premarital agreement. This is a common request of the early stages of a divorce,” celebrity divorce lawyer Chris Melcher, a partner of Walzer Melcher & Yoda, tells Yahoo Entertainment.
Manganiello has the right to challenge the prenup — like Kevin Costner’s estranged wife, Christine is doing — and Vergara would have to prove under California law he signed it voluntarily.
Family lawyer Katherine Miller, of the Miller Law Group, notes that Vergara’s filing “is fairly straightforward” in terms of celebrity divorces.
“Since there is a prenup in place and because the couple has no children, so long as neither of them challenges the validity of the prenup the divorce negotiation should only involve issues unresolved by the prenup itself… like a custody plan for Bubbles,” she explains. “Pet custody is an evolving area of law and the guidelines are grey.”
Bubbles is a 10-year-old Chihuahua-Pomeranian mix dog that Vergara adopted in 2021. Bubbles frequently popped up on the former couple’s social media accounts. However, reports claim the actress has already agreed to give Manganiello custody.
As for whether Manganiello could ask for spousal support, it’s his legal right to do so, but that was likely addressed in the prenup he signed before their 2015 wedding.
“Spousal support or alimony is an issue that is almost always addressed by celebrity prenups. Most likely, Joe waived any claim for spousal support in the prenup,” Miller theorizes. “If he didn’t waive spousal support, then he will only be able to make a successful claim for spousal support if he is unable to support himself with his own income and/or assets.”
“Courts are less likely to enforce an outright waiver or severe limitation on spousal support in a premarital agreement,” Melcher explains. “California law allows a judge to invalidate a waiver of spousal support and a premarital agreement if it would be unconscionable for the spouse to receive no support. Because the couple was married for only seven years, Joe would typically receive support for half the length of a marriage or 3.5 years. And it will be harder for Joe to show that a waiver of support is unconscionable due to the relatively short length of their marriage. Gender should make no difference in assessing the need for spousal support, but men have found it difficult to ask for spousal support.”
The actors did not have children during their almost 10 years together, so both Melcher and Miller don’t anticipate this divorce getting nasty. It’s rumored that Manganiello’s desire to have kids played a factor in their split. (Vergara is already mother to 31-year-old son Manolo from her prior marriage.)
“There is no reason why this divorce should become contentious. They were not married that long and have no children together. They simply grew apart and they should be able to resolve this amicably,” Melcher concludes.
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