With all the media hoopla surrounding the Tiger Woods cheating/getting beaten up by his waifish wife/crashing his car situation fiasco saga, we thought it would be a good idea to tap one of our most underused and undervalued sources of knowledge. We haven’t really seen anyone breaking down this thing from a legal perspective, focusing on just what Tiger stands to lose if his wife does, in fact, leave him for infidelity. Therefore we asked our resident legal advisor, Booter, to give us his take on the situation. Yes, we are in fact friends with an actual working, practicing lawyer.
Here’s what Booter had to say about Eldrick and Elin’s marital bliss:
Living in Florida could prove to be a double-edged sword for one Eldrick Woods. Sure the weather is nice, there’s plenty of stuffy country clubs for Isleworth to challenge in pseudo-Ryder Cup events the Golf Channel uses to fill its airtime when it’s out of Infomercials, and there is no state income tax. On the flip side, there is the messy business of Florida’s system of dividing property between spouses should Eldrick and Elin divorce.
Florida, like most states follows the marital property system. At its most basic level, marital property includes the assets and liabilities acquired by the parties during their marriage. Non-marital property is generally property that the parties acquired prior to marriage and gifts/inheritance received during the marriage. During divorce proceedings, the court’s job is to equitably divide the marital property between the parties. This does not mean that each spouse is entitled to half, instead each spouse is entitled to what is “fair.”
Numerous circumstances can play into the decision of how to divide the property such as who contributed the asset/liability, the duration of the marriage, whether one party put a career or education on hold, whether one spouse contributed to the career or education of the other, and so on. The numerous factors, of course, lead to messy arguments about which spouse should get what, and how much they should get.
However, in an effort to avoid the messiness of such a proceeding, many couples, including Mr. & Mrs. Eldrick Woods, sign pre-nuptual agreements that either pre-divide the couple’s property or in the Woods’ case assign a cash pay-out one spouse (Eldrick) will pay the other (Elin) should the marriage end in divorce. According to reports the Woods’ initial pre-nup called for Elin to receive $20 million if the couple were divorced after 10 years. Due to Eldrick’s recently revealed indiscretions, however, the pre-nup is reportedly being renegotiated. In exchange for staying with a man who likes to play multiple holes at the same time (insert joke about wayward drives here), Elin will receive an immediate cash payment of $5 million, an increase in the payout should the couple divorce and a shortening of the time the couple must stay married for her to receive the payout.
Why would Eldrick agree to up the ante? Simple, endorsements.
Other than David Beckham, Tiger Woods is the single most recognized athlete in the world. His endorsements dwarf the money he wins playing on the PGA tour. He has tailored himself to be the friendly golfer who will gladly shill for your product, show up and play a round of golf with your CEO and pocket millions in the process. Not that other golfers don’t do this, but he’s also the best damn golfer on the planet. If his dirty laundry were aired in public by his wife the damage would be much worse than it already is. Plus, given our society’s voracious appetite for scandal, the chances are some other athlete or celebrity is going to do something stupid in the next month or so to make this all a distant memory.
What’s in it for Elin? Partly the cachet of remaining Mrs. Eldrick Woods. Even though she could have more money than any of Rumors and Rants boys could ever dream of (their humble legal expert included) if she took the money and ran, it still couldn’t buy the cachet that comes with being Mrs. Eldrick. Especially now that she knows she has Eldrick by his bag of balls.
As for me, I hope they work it out. If a cablasian golf superstar whose college nickname was Urkel, who lacked the sack to ask out the smoking hot Swedish nanny of one of his co-workers, so he had someone do it for him a la 5th grade, and said super hot Swedish nanny who has an equally smoking hot twin sister can’t make it work while living in a ridiculously huge house while having access to more money than well, pretty much anyone, what chance is there for the rest of us?
Well said Booter.