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Prenuptial contract challenged in billionaire's divorce

In a high net worth divorce in Georgia or elsewhere, the wealthier spouse often relies on a prenuptial agreement to preserve his or her rights in separately owned property. The agreement is an enforceable contract that the couple signs prior to the wedding. It gives the wealthier spouse the absolute ownership of most or all of the property he or she owned prior to the marriage, including post-marriage increases. It restricts greatly the claims that the less wealthy spouse may make if there is a later divorce.

A prenuptial cannot generally be successfully challenged in a divorce. The one major exception is where there was a failure by the wealthier spouse to make a full disclosure of his or her assets. Other than the rare case containing highly extraordinary circumstances, challenges to a prenuptial on other grounds have been usually rejected by the courts.

The spouse of one of the world's richest men is trying to get the prenuptial that she signed struck down on the grounds of duress. The plaintiff in the divorce is Ken Griffin, billionaire founder of Citadel Investment Group located in Chicago. He filed in July, requesting a divorce from his wife of 11 years, Anne Dias Griffin. The couple has three children, aged two, three and six.

Ms. Dias Griffin filed a response on Sept. 2. She asked for full custody of the children, and claimed that the father left them in 2012 while she was pregnant with their third child. She requests not only child support but also spousal support and alimony, based on the prenuptial being invalid.

She claims that she was not shown Griffin's disclosure until right before the wedding, and did not start to review the draft with a lawyer until 11 days prior to the ceremony. In Georgia or any other state, it is extremely difficult to obtain a dissolution of a prenuptial agreement based on the kinds of issues she raises in her response to the divorce complaint. However, as long as Griffin believes there may be a possibility that the court will invalidate the contract, he will possibly be amenable to a generous settlement substantially better than what the agreement provides.

Source: Chicago Sun-Times, "Billionaire's wife says she was coerced into signing pre-nup", Michael Sneed, Sept. 2, 2014

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