Donald Trump could lose custody of son Barron and $50 million if Melania divorces him, says lawyer
In the wake of Trump's presidency ending, the survival of his and Melania's relationship has become a hot topic
Donald and Melania Trump just marked their 15th wedding anniversary on Friday, January 22. As rumors of their marriage reaching its breaking point run wild following the election loss, top lawyers have remarked how the former first lady could still win big if she chooses to divorce her husband. With a renegotiated prenup, and provided she stays married a little longer after leaving the White House, Melania could win both her son Baron Trump and an additional $50 million.
Will Melania win $50 million?
It is worth noting that while Donald's net worth dropped from $3.1 billion in 2019 to $2.5 billion in 2020, Melania, the Slovenia-born former fashion model, has a net worth of $50 million. New York divorce lawyer Jacqueline Newman told The Mirror that while it's difficult to estimate the amount Melania would receive in divorce, it would likely be more than what Trump's first two wives ever got. Newman said: "I am guessing that she will receive actual cash payments as well as properties. Should she move back to New York City, he will be providing housing for her, whether it means her retaining a property in her own name or that he will provide her with an apartment to live in, which he would own, until their son is emancipated, which is 21 in New York. She will also retain any assets that are currently in her own name. I would not be surprised if the amounts range between $20 million and $50 million."
Speaking about how the next year could amount to be crucial for their marriage, Newman remarked: "I think the next year or so will be very telling as to how things will play out with their marriage. Should she remain in the marriage after they leave the White House for a significant amount of time, I would imagine there may be a renegotiation of the agreement. However, should there be a divorce — then the need to renegotiate will be moot."
The Trumps' prenup agreement
The Trumps are believed to still have a “title dictate” prenup as before, where all assets in his name are his, and those in her name are hers. Any joint name is equally divided, but Newman says "I would be surprised if there were any assets held in joint name. These types of prenuptial agreements often will then have a lump sum payment, or a payment over time, issued to the non-monied spouse. I would bet that whatever amount that Melania was due to receive under the original prenuptial agreement has now been significantly increased. There are probably no assets to be divided. It is just a question of what property or properties she will be entitled to live in and how much of a lump sum payment she will receive, plus any spousal support."
London-based divorce lawyer Janette Johnson told The Mirror how their renegotiated agreement could include also Donald's past affairs. "There could be some penalty clauses for misbehavior, for example the allegations regarding Stormy Daniels," Johnson told the outlet adding, "It was reported before Melania moved into the White House that she re-negotiated her pre-nuptial agreement – not surprising given the allegations raised. Foremost in her mind was their child Barron. Further, there will no doubt be other assets built up in their marriage during the term, and no doubt Melania through her lawyers will reach a private settlement."
Custody of Barron Trump
Washington Post journalist Mary Jordan had shared in her book 'The Art of Her Deal: The Untold Story of Melania Trump', how even though Melania's first prenup wasn't very generous, the updated one ensures their son Barron won't be left out of the family business. Experts like Elspeth Kinder, head of family law at JMW Solicitors told The Mirror how she believes Melania would remain Barron's primary care-giver should the divorce happen. "A decision will be made based on meeting Barron’s care needs and the best way to do that. We may well see Melania taking the lion’s share of Barron’s care, particularly given his father’s schedule and myriad business interests, although we could also see Donald stepping back from his business empire for a while, particularly following the challenges of recent months, in which case he may wish to be more involved in his son’s life.”
Phillip Rhodes, a partner in the family law team at Slater Heelis Solicitors, told the outlet that custody could also be shared and Barron's wishes will be taken into consideration too. "Primary custody may have been dealt with in the terms of the prenup. If not, the outcome will depend a number of factors, including Barron’s parents’ respective abilities to meet his needs, he told The Mirror. If they can both meet his needs then there is no reason why custody couldn’t be shared. However, as Barron is now 14 years old, his own views and wishes may be factors which are taken into consideration."
The Trumps' alleged icy behavior towards each other has been marked ever since the former president began his term in January 2017, and then-First Lady, Melania, didn't immediately join him in Washington. As she stayed behind in New York for five months, claims are that she delayed her arrival as leverage to renegotiate the prenup. She referred to it as "taking care of Barron", writes Jordan in her book, claiming it was all to make things look more generous. The book also adds how Melania needed time to cool off after her husband's alleged affairs were exposed.
In the wake of Trump, a twice-divorced property tycoon's four-year run as president ending on January 21, his and Melania's relationship has become a hot topic. Some frosty, awkward moments could be between the two at Washington when they disembarked Air Force One at Palm Beach's airport, Melania looked impassive and kept on walking, while Donald stopped to pose for the cameras. Their shared child, Baron Trump, all of 14, and already towering over his father, also moved to Donald's Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida as the Bidens were sworn into presidency.
Back in 2018, Former White House aide and 'The Apprentice' contestant Omarosa Manigault-Newman had written in her book that the 50-year-old Melania was "counting every minute" until Donald, 74, was no longer the president so she could finally divorce him. Earlier in 2020, former friend and adviser Stephanie Winston Wolkoff claimed in a tell-all book that the Trumps' marriage was a "transactional" one — so bad, that they sleep in separate rooms in the White House.