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Ex-New York "housewife" Frankel and husband separate

A prenuptial agreement may prevent a New York reality TV star from losing millions of dollars she made for originating Skinnygirl cocktails. Bethenny Frankel recently announced that she and Jason Hoppy were separated. Reports indicate the celebrity parents are moving forward with divorce.

Frankel and Hoppy married in 2010, the same year the couple's daughter was born. According to insiders, the couple's prenuptial agreement was altered after marriage. The change allegedly did not compromise Frankel's full claim to Skinnygirl proceeds in a divorce settlement.

Jim Beam purchased Skinnygirl in 2011 for an estimated $120 million. Frankel apparently still reaps millions of dollars in bonuses attached to Skinnygirl sales, including a 2012 bonus of $12 million.

Frankel was also a fixture on Bravo television as one of the "Real Housewives of New York City." Her individual popularity led to lucrative, solo shows called "Bethenny Getting Married?" and "Bethenny Ever After" for a reported $40,000 per episode. The 41-year-old launched the talk show "Bethenny" last summer. Frankel is also the author of four well-received books.

Legal observers are wondering what Hoppy will receive from the nearly three-year marriage. The estranged husband could challenge the prenuptial agreement or dispute child custody, despite Frankel's statement that the couple planned to "amicably co-parent."

Frankel once said Hoppy was "a regular guy with a regular salary." A court will look at the assets the couple accumulated during marriage and may decide that Hoppy helped Frankel achieve some of her financial status.

Where divorce papers are filed would make a difference in how the couple's settlement plays out. New York is an equitable distribution state. Couples divide marital property fairly, but not always equally. California is a community property state where divorcing couples' assets are split in half.

A lot will depend upon the prenuptial agreement - how the spouses feel about it now and a judge's response to its contents.

Source: businessinsider.com, "Bethenny Frankel Announces Split From Husband, Here's What Will Happen To Her Skinnygirl Fortune," Aly Weisman, Dec. 23, 2012

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