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Spouses may be able to challenge prenuptial agreements

Putting a prenuptial agreement in place can be an effective way of safeguarding assets in the event of a divorce. For many couples in Illinois, such a separation can result in complex property division if there is not already a contract in place that determines how the items will be allotted. As one high-profile case illustrates, however, it is possible to dispute an agreement if one party takes issue with it.

The Uniform Prenuptial Agreement Act, which puts in place guidelines for establishing the documents, is one of the reasons that such contracts are hard to break. However, spouses may challenge them on several reasons, the most common of which, according to attorneys, is a situation in which one spouse attempts to hide or undervalue assets. In other situations, people may claim a prenuptial agreement is null because they felt intimidated or forced to sign.

Just three hours before their rehearsal dinner in 2002, hedge fund billionaire Ken Griffin and Anne Dias-Griffin entered into a prenuptial agreement that would grant Anne 1 percent of her husband’s assets. Anne claims that Ken, who is estimated to be worth $5 billion, only disclosed his finances to her a few days before the wedding. She is challenging the contract, stating that there is a large difference between her assets and his. Additionally, she argues that she only signed the agreement because she felt coerced by a psychologist who had a professional relationship with Ken Griffin.

As one lawyer pointed out, using the coercion argument can pose problems, as people often have to prove the intimidation was extreme. However, spouses may be able to negotiate a fairer settlement. Anyone who is trying to put together an agreement or dispute one should contact an attorney.

Source: Today.com, “How safe is a prenup? Breaking it up can be hard to do, lawyers say,” Robert Frank, Sept. 3, 2014 

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