Monday, October 22, 2007

Prenuptial agreements and contentious divorces

Not your usual divorce, probably not a poster child for prenuptial agreements but take a look at Low Road to Splitsville from today's Washington Post.

With the legal fight still in the weigh-in phase, the story of Scaife v. Scaife already includes a dog-snatching, an assault, a night in jail and that divorce court perennial, allegations of adultery.

Oh, and there's the money. Three words, people.

No. Pre. Nup.

Unfathomable but true, when Scaife (rhymes with safe) married his second wife, Margaret "Ritchie" Scaife, in 1991, he neglected to wall off a fortune that Forbes recently valued at $1.3 billion. This, to understate matters, is likely going to cost him, big time. As part of a temporary settlement, 60-year-old Ritchie Scaife is currently cashing an alimony check that at first glance will look like a typo: $725,000 a month. Or about $24,000 a day, seven days a week. As Richard Scaife's exasperated lawyers put it in a filing, "The temporary order produces an amount so large that just the income from it, invested at 5 percent, is greater each year than the salary of the President of the United States
With that kind of money, not having a prenuptial agreement seems beyond foolish. But then I think of Paul McCartney. Then when I read about the hooker and the trysts at a no-tell motel, I forget McCartney and think Scaife is even more foolish for not having a pre-nuptial agreement.

And for those who wonder how it is that divorces get contentious there are the following paragraphs. Sometimes human nature gets too riled up for anything but contention.
A few days after Scannell reported the Doug's Motel rendezvous to Ritchie Scaife, she noticed Vasco's Jeep in the driveway of his mansion at Westminster Place. Gaping through a window, according to court papers filed by her lawyers, she spotted Vasco. Then the trouble started.

Private investigator Scannell, commenting on what became a much-discussed local news story, put it this way: "Mrs. Scaife acted as any loving wife would upon finding out just days earlier that her husband had a confirmed meeting, for several hours, at a $40 motel with a woman previously arrested for prostitution."

Police would later say that Ritchie Scaife began pounding on doors and windows and refused to leave, which is why she was promptly arrested for "defiant trespass." She was handcuffed and driven downtown to the Allegheny County Jail -- near the Liberty Bridge, at 950 Second Ave. -- where a woman accustomed to traveling with a personal hairdresser spent the night in what her lawyers later called a "grim" holding cell.

The trespassing charge was eventually dismissed, but as Ritchie Scaife's lawyer stated in a divorce filing, "The marriage was over!"

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