Prenuptial agreements are exceptionally useful tools to ensure that certain assets are protected should a marriage possibly end in divorce. However, it may seem as though nearly every high-profile divorce has at least one party that challenges the validity of a prenup. Illinois billionaire Ken Griffin recently filed for divorce from his wife, and the couple’s prenup has been at the center of contention.
We last wrote about Ken and Anne Griffin’s divorce in “Illinois billionaire Ken Griffin to divorce wife of 11 years” on July 28, 2014. In it we discussed that the Griffins did have a prenuptial agreement as well as what a prenup commonly addresses. However, Ms. Griffin has contended that the prenuptial agreement that she signed only hours before the rehearsal dinner for their wedding should be tossed out.
According to her, she felt forced to sign the agreement after a psychologist with an already-established relationship with her husband placed unfair influence on her. She also claims that she suffered coercion and duress related to the agreement. Additionally, she says that the parameters that the prenup lays out for asset division would be wrong in most capacities as there is an exceptionally wide gap between their income and both current and future earning ability.
Despite these claims, it may not be so easy to invalidate a prenuptial agreement. While fraud or coercion and duress are two of the very few grounds that a prenup may be thrown out in Illinois, coercion typically has to be extreme. If the prenuptial agreement is successfully invalidated, it may be unlikely that the couple is able to settle a divorce agreement between either themselves or with a mediator, and they may ultimately find themselves before a judge, who will give the final say concerning everything from asset division and alimony to child support and custody.
Source: today.com, “How safe is a prenup? Breaking it up can be hard to do, lawyers say“, Robert Frank, Sept. 3, 2014