Prenuptial agreements are becoming more and more common here in Dallas and elsewhere across the country. Once a taboo subject, many engaged couples are finding that any awkwardness in the initial conversation is quickly replaced by a shared sense of trust that, no matter what happens to the marriage, both partners have an agreed-upon understanding of what to expect.
Still, it’s only logical that couples with the most high-value assets and property would be the most likely to use a prenuptial agreement to protect assets they brought into the marriage and to stipulate what property rights each partner would have in a divorce. One high-asset divorce has been making headlines recently due to some unique and creative provisions in the prenuptial agreement. The husband, a billionaire hedge fund manager, and wife are struggling with hotly contested issues like homes and businesses as well as child custody — they have three children together — and where the children should live.
Their prenuptial agreement, interestingly enough, directed that the wife receive a lump sum upon entering the marriage and then approximately $1 million per year every year after that for as long as they were married. It also gave her joint ownership of their family home — an $11 million penthouse in Chicago formerly owned by the husband alone. Altogether, the husband is claiming that the wife has already received over $37 million in cash, not including her share of the home.
The wife, however, is claiming that she did not sign the prenuptial agreement of her own free will. She further alleges that she has been barred from a number of other residences they own, that her husband shuttered a charity they owned together and even threatened to tear down part of the penthouse.
A prenuptial agreement dispute can be a difficult challenge in the midst of a divorce. The instrument a couple trusted to help them separate with minimal disruption itself becomes a piece of the larger battle. Working with a family law professional is one important way in which couples can reduce the risk of this scenario and ensure that their prenuptial agreement draft and all of its ramifications are clearly understood by both parties.