E!'s new scripted series The Arrangement deals with a Tom Cruise type who gets into a sign-on-the-dotted-line relationship with a Katie holmes type and the two belong to a "religion" called The Institute for the Higher Mind.
But fake couples happen every day in Hollywood.
Think Michael Jackson and Debbie Rowe.
Or Mel Gibson and Oksana Grigorieva. While both women are obligated to not disparage their exes, the public heard a mouthful from Oksana, who in 2014 told Howard Stern on his SiriusXm Satellite show that her experience with the actor was “painful and dark,” got the short end of the stick in her settlement agreement with Mel because she blabbed about him publicly—and in a negative light.
Christopher Melcher, founding partner with Los Angeles based family law firm Walzer Melcher, says when celebrities enter into an “arranged” relationship, there are a couple of steps they take, the first being securing themselves a non-disclosure contract.
“That’s probably the biggest part of these relationship agreements,” Chris says. “It’s the publicists or agents who are pulling the strings and have arranged it, where I come in is when the parties involved say ‘we’re dating, we’re not going to be married, we have the following concerns. How they got together or if the relationship is real isn’t for me.”
So, rather than a prenup, this type of couple, who are either seeking publicity to revive one’s career, or to get one off the ground, or to rehab an image, they focus mainly on what information about the bigger star can and cannot be revealed.
“There is a celebrity couple, and they want to agree to what they want to say about their relationship,” Chris says. “There would be a contractual provision drawn up as to what can and cannot be disclosed.”
In other words, one can sue the other one if one goes rogue and starts blabbing all over town, hoping to destroy the other’s image.
“There was a court case involving Mel Gibson and his ex, and there was a payment due, but what happened there is they had a settlement agreement which involved a payment in the future—conditioned on non-disclosure and no disparagement. Then she went on Howard Stern and broke that agreement. The court invoked the clause and the court backed Mel up.”
Some other provisions for a temporary “relationship” are often sex clauses, weight clauses, property clauses, and if children will be part of the relationship.
“They say for example ‘for a period of two to three years you are not going to disclose this and this,’” says Chris. “Here is the script of what you can say. If you deviate from it you forfeit this future payment.”
There are often cohabitation agreements drawn up when a couple has no plans to marry, which can develop into some legal obligations (money), especially if children become involved.
“Living together is not required for that, but is usually the situation,” Chris says.
He says he deals often with men who try to use their money and power to gain control over a partner in a relationship, for whatever reason. And even though it’s really not enforceable contractually, they want paperwork drawn up with sex and weight provisions.
“They want in writing how many times a week or month can sex occur? is there a penalty for not doing that? What about a weight clause?” Chris asks, adding, “But, it’s not enforceable. Some people just feel safer with it in writing although it doesn’t mean a thing.
“Putting provisions like that in threaten the validity of the whole agreement, you can’t enforce sex, for example.”
What is enforceable? The non-disclosure. So when you hear of an unusual couple in Hollywood who have suddenly fallen in love, don’t count on them to talk smack about each other until their contract is up. One of them needs the money. The other needs the fame.
The Arrangement premieres on E! Sunday, March 5 at 10/9c.
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