No one, apart from the parties themselves and their respective attorneys, know the exact details of the supposedly revised prenuptial agreement between Elin Nordegren and Tiger Woods. And the truth is that no one apart from the parties themselves (excluding now the attorneys) know exactly what the marital relationship was like between these two prior to the lid coming off late last week. But there are plenty of conversations expressing a degree of certainty about the details of the new contract between Elin and Tiger, that we can probably safely conclude that Elin’s payout in the event the Woodses should split is increasing. Now being refered to as a “postnup,” there is reportedly not only a reduction in the time leading to the vesting of the deal, but also increases in the dollar amounts that will accrue to her. There is also reportedly an interim seven-figure payment to her that is being made immediately. Overarching everything else about this situation is the appearance that the relationship between Elin and Tiger has moved from one of mutual love, honor and respect (hopefully these were present at the outset), to more of a business deal wherein one party pays the other for time and service.
One report suggests that the agreement includes behavioral conditions attached to the payout. Specifically, that Elin must “be a dutiful wife in showing up with him at social events and in public as if they were still the perfect couple, and sign a nondisclosure form that will prevent her from ever telling her story.” (emphasis added)
This is absurd and her advisors would do well to suggest that she agree to no such thing. First of all, they never were, nor will they ever be “the perfect couple” because this and all other couples are made up of two imperfect people. And in the case of this couple, one of them has now been publically exposed as more imperfect than his wife, his fans and his sponsors would like for him to be. Secondly, performance against a subjective, qualitative standard such as “showing up as a perfect couple” is impossible to measure and the likelihood of a breach is far too great. Third, the presentation of an image of being a perfect couple is far too great a burden for a betrayed spouse to have to meet. This sort of demand has the appearance of disgraced politicians and celebrities having their forlorn spouses stand dutifully by the podium while their husbands “come clean.” (Spitzer, McGreavy, and Jordan come to mind.) Elin Nordegren has never apparently been a publicity seeker, and is likely not skilled at the fine art of dealing with a voracious media, drooling at the prospect of asking probing questions about her personal and married life. Lacking that kind of experience or training, she is bound to fail this test.
Fourth, on the surface, it would seem that she would forfeit her entitlement to a share of the couples assets if any of the details of her story are exposed. Unless specifically excluded in the agreement, Elin would effectively be prevented from telling her story to counselors or any one else who might assist her in processing the betrayal she has most certainly experienced. This sort of limitation will not serve her emotional health in either the short of long-term.
But fifth and perhaps most importantly, there is NOTHING that has been discussed or revealed in the media about conditions being attached to a change in behavior by Tiger Woods himself. The details that have been released to date about this so-called “postnup” have the appearance of handcuffing Elin to a marriage for the sake of claiming an equitible distribution of the assets that have been acquired during her marriage to Tiger Woods. But nothing has been said about penalties that accrue to Woods himself, should he fail to repent from his philandering. In fact, the structure of the deal that has been made public so far does nothing to prevent him from continuing to have affairs, with the assurance that for at least a few more years, the mother of his children will be at home with the kids awaiting his return. And, if you want to take a really cynical view, the current “deal” almost provides a financial incentive for him to continue to misbehave, with the “hope” that Elin will have her fill of his infidelity and leave prior to the vesting of her share of their collective assets. While you might be tempted to counter that point by saying that he stands to jeopardize his endorsement contracts, so far, with four affairs already made public, not one of his sponsors has indicated anything but support for Woods. And this absurdity is the subject of perhaps another blog post.