As Donald Trump ventured further and further into his presidential campaign, Melania Trump had no choice but to embrace the political spotlight. So far, she’s stayed with him through scandal and success. Will their marriage survive his presidency — or end in divorce?
Though it’s rare, the 45th president isn’t the only one to enter the White House as a divorcee. He would, however, be the first to divorce while in office, if things went that far. Here’s why.
Donald and Melania Trump married in 2005
The two first met at a New York Fashion Week party in 1998. Despite refusing to give him her number at first, she eventually agreed to marry him. They have one son together, Barron, who is Melania’s first child but Donald’s fifth.
Next: He spent millions of dollars on his first divorce.
He had divorced two wives before marrying her
Melania wasn’t Donald Trump’s first wife. He has actually been married three times — first to Ivana Zelníčková in 1977, then Marla Maples in 1993. His marriage to Ivana ended after a public affair with Maples.
Trump’s first divorce ended up being one of the most expensive celebrity splits in history, costing about $25 million total.
Next: Here’s what Donald really likes about Melania.
Donald likes that Melania is less needy than his other wives
Seeing as this is Donald’s third marriage, he’s chosen someone who appears to be much different than Ivana and Marla. While his previous two wives seemed to be more high maintenance, The New Yorker reports Melania says she’s “not a nagging wife.” Donald has reportedly not taken much interest in her home country of Slovenia or her culture, but for Melania, that’s OK. “I’m not that kind of wife who would say, ‘Learn this’ or ‘Learn that’,” she says. As far as the publication could tell, she doesn’t even tease Donald, but rather obediently compliments him.
Next: Donald loves when Melania does this.
Donald loved when Melania would praise him
Going along with Melania’s seemingly obedient attitude toward her husband, Michael D’Antonio, author of The Truth About Trump, says he noticed something troubling about their relationship, Vanity Fair reports. D’Antonio says when he met Donald and Melania, Donald said to his wife, “Tell him I’m a really good husband.” He repeated this to her twice before she finally told D’Antonio her husband was great, but it seemed to be dragged out of her.
The author also said Melania had another wifely duty — praising Donald’s fame by telling him he was more well known than other actors or rich folks.
Next: Trump was OK with having another child under one condition.
They agreed to have children — as long as Melania got her body back
We know by now that Ivanka appears to be the golden child of the Trump family, but Melania wanted children of her own. Here’s where things get weird, though. As Marie Claire reports, the couple had a “contract” of sorts before her pregnancy with Barron. Donald wanted to ensure Melania would get her pre-baby body back, and she assured him everything would go back to how it was.
Of course, there are conflicting reports here, as a spokeperson for Melania claims Donald was a very warm and supportive soon-to-be dad at the time. But others say he seemed to be quite cold and transactional about the whole thing.
Next: The latest Trump marriage might not last.
Are Donald and Melania Trump headed toward divorce?
From the outside looking in, many speculate that, like all previous unions to date, this Trump marriage will not last. Though some reports claimed she didn’t even want to become a first lady or move into the White House, she has also defended his questionable remarks and tainted history with other women.
Whether they stay together forever, until his time in office ends, or split up as president and first lady might make a huge difference.
Next: Is it even possible for the POTUS to divorce their spouse?
What would happen if they split up during his term?
Aside from their prenuptial agreement, Melania would leave the White House and become the “former first lady.” If a president were to divorce his wife and then remarry all while still serving his term, she would become the current FLOTUS in place of the former.
Getting a divorce while still in office probably won’t happen strictly for political reasons. In fact, it’s never happened before — and only one other previously divorced president has held office.
Next: Divorced presidents aren’t common, but we’ve seen it before.
Trump isn’t the first divorced U.S. president
Most of the 45 U.S. presidents have entered the White House alongside their wives, and stayed married throughout their terms. Only one former president never married. Another, like Trump, served as president alongside someone other than his first wife.
Ronald and Nancy Reagan married after his divorce from Jane Wyman. They stayed married until his death in 2004.
Next: This is how most presidential couples say their goodbyes.
Most presidential marriages end in death
“Til death do us part” is a vow that’s held true for the majority of former U.S. presidents. Though some have remarried after the fact — both while in office and after their presidencies — most have stayed together despite scandal and public scrutiny.
So far, the longest-lasting presidential marriage is still going strong after 73 years.
Next: Is a “first someone” really necessary?
Does a president need a first lady?
When Hillary Clinton campaigned against Donald Trump in the 2016 election, many wondered what we’d call Bill Clinton if his wife won the presidency (“first gentleman,” if you were curious). But what would happen if there wasn’t a presidential spouse to give a “first” title?
James Buchanan was the only U.S. president who served his entire term unmarried. If Donald and Melania Trump did part ways, technically, he wouldn’t need a stand-in. But history has shown first ladies play meaningful political roles, using their positions for good. Even if he didn’t remarry, he might still consider appointing someone to fill the space a former first lady left behind.
Next: Another woman is claiming to be the first lady and Melania isn’t having it.
Ivana calls herself ‘first lady’ and Melania isn’t having it
Melania is certainly the first lady to the American people — but not to Ivana, Trump’s first wife. CNN reports Ivana called herself the real first lady in her new memoir. Instead of sitting back and letting the ridiculousness run its course, Melania wasn’t having any of it. She fired back by saying Ivana’s comments are “attention-seeking and self-serving noise,” according to her communications director, Stephanie Grisham.
Though sources maintain Ivana and Donald are still friendly following their divorce, this particular comment seemed to bother Melania more than others.
Next: Do they have a prenup and how much would Melania get in a divorce?
Donald says a prenup is good for the relationship
Donald Trump is a big fan of prenuptial agreements. He doesn’t get married without them. Because of his wealth and his relationship history, it’s easy to see why. Trump told New York magazine that a prenup made his relationship with Melania stronger. He says it’s better to know who is going to get what from the beginning.
“Believe me, there’s nothing fun about it. But there comes a time when you have to say, ‘Darling, I think you’re magnificent, and I care for you deeply, but if things don’t work out, this is what you’re going to get,'” said Trump.
Next: Donald Trump thinks this is a good amount.
Donald recommends a cool million
In 2012, on CNBC’s Squawk Box, Donald Trump offered some unsolicited advice to Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg. Trump suggested that Zuckerberg should have his then-girlfriend Priscilla Chan sign a prenup. He even offered to look at the agreement if Zuckerberg chose to get one.
“I think I’d be one of the great professionals and advise him,” Trump jokingly said during his CNBC interview. He said Zuckerberg should only give Chan $1 million if they ever split up. “I think if she made a million dollars that would be very good,” said Trump.
Next: Would Melania put up a fight?
Would Melania contest the prenup?
If the way past wives Ivana Trump and Marla Maples reacted is any indication, Melania will likely contest the prenup. Both Ivana and Marla contested their agreements. In the end, Ivana was awarded $14 million in cash, $350,000 in annual alimony, and child support payments of $300,000 each year for their three children. The former Mrs. Trump also snagged their Greenwich, Connecticut, mansion and a Trump Plaza apartment. After a brief battle, Maples settled for just $2 million.
Next: Melania would probably get some of this.
Melania would likely be granted one of Trump’s many real estate properties. Ivana was able to get a Trump Plaza apartment, so it’s possible Melania might also be granted a luxury apartment. Jacqueline Newman, a managing partner with Berkman Bottger Newman & Rodd told Town & Country it’s not uncommon for a wealthy spouse to purchase an apartment for the spouse with less money.
Next: What would happen to this?
Personal property and businesses
When it comes to personal property like jewelry, these items generally stay in that person’s possession. So, for example, any jewelry given to Melania would likely be hers to keep. And what about money earned from her jewelry business? Without the actual agreement to review, it’s hard to say what would happen to any businesses Melania starts after their marriage.
Next: What about Barron?
Who would Barron stay with?
Melania has been quite vocal about the fact that she’s the main caregiver. It’s likely she would be the primary custodian if she and Donald were to divorce. Melania told People she has taken over most of the parenting duties since her husband travels often. She also told the magazine since Barron is at an age where he’s still discovering life, she wants to be an active guide. “He wants to be a golfer, a businessman, a pilot. It’s that age when you introduce him to stuff, and I like to be very hands-on,” she said.
Next: Her settlement would likely include this.
Generous child support payments
If Melania and Donald Trump divorce, it’s also likely there will be generous child support payments. As noted earlier, Ivana received a pretty decent payout. Marla received less cash, but her settlement did include money for private school tuition for their daughter (Tiffany Trump), payments for nanny costs, and coverage for medical expenses.
Next: Could this happen?
What if there isn’t a prenup?
You might be wondering what would happen if there wasn’t a prenuptial agreement. If there isn’t a prenup (something that’s highly unlikely), attorney Peter Stambleck, a partner at Aronson Mayefsky & Sloan, told Town & Country things would likely get very complicated.
Billionaires have complicated asset structures. They have shell companies, LLCs, investments in other companies, and it’s very, very complicated. One main purpose of a prenup is to avoid having to share in that, but also to avoid the headache that goes into producing all the documents and having accountants come in and look at all of it. Theoretically, that’s what could happen in the absence of a prenup.
Additional reporting by Lauren Weiler and Sheiresa Ngo.
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