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High-profile Illinois divorce showcases prenup challenges

Illinois is a signatory to the Uniform Prenuptial Agreement Act. The recent divorce between Citadel Funds founder Ken Griffin and his wife Anne Dias-Griffin has seen her challenge the prenuptial agreement the couple signed in 2002.

The legal consensus on prenuptial agreements is that they're settled law. The Uniform Prenuptial Agreement Act lays out stringent conditions for setting up a prenup, and so long as those guidelines are followed, it's very difficult to get a judge to set it aside. The provisions of the Act also make prenuptial agreements much easier to enforce when they are upheld; in general, what's on the paper is what gets paid or divided up. While the Griffin divorce is high profile because of the amount of money involved, most prenups challenges are unsuccessful.

While prenups are strong, a handful of conditions can nullify one. Fraud and undervaluing assets brought into the marriage are the two most common claims. In the Griffin divorce case, Dias-Griffin says that the financial terms of the prenuptial agreement were disclosed three days before the wedding, and given the nature of her husband's business, that was inadequate time for her to bring herself up to speed on them. Coercion is the other condition that can nullify or modify a prenuptial agreement, and it's the coercion claim that Dias-Griffin is using for her primary argument. Her court filing states that her husband, when confronted with her reluctance to sign, got violently angry and then recommended a psychiatrist with which he had an existing professional relationship.

Prenuptial agreements are important legal instruments and have a number of subtleties involved in their creation and amendment. While they are only rarely set aside by the courts, defending a prenuptial agreement against a challenge is something that should be handled by a family law practice.

Source: Today.com, "How safe is a prenup? Breaking it up can be hard to do, lawyers say", Robert Frank, September 03, 2014

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