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With billions at stake, wife contends she signed prenup under duress

I have previously written in this blog about the benefits of prenuptial agreements. Prenuptial agreements can help reduce confusion and conflict related to the assets and possessions retained by each spouse in a divorce. Additionally, prenups can ensure a divorcing spouse isn't saddled with a soon-to-be ex's student loan debt. Given the significant financial benefits of a prenuptial agreement, it's important to ensure that proper procedures are followed when drafting and executing such a legal document.

The divorce between billionaire hedge fund creator Ken Griffin and his estranged wife Anne Dias Griffin appears to be growing more contentious by the day. After 11 years of marriage, Ken Griffin recently filed to divorce his wife and mother of his three young children. Since that time, Dias Griffin has taken steps to legally invalidate the couple's prenuptial agreement. In court documents, Dias Griffin contends that she signed the prenuptial agreement while under duress. It is important to include language in a prenuptial agreement that both parties are signing the agreement freely and voluntarily without undue influence, duress or coercion and that they have made full disclosure of their respective assets and liabilities at the time of their marriage.Griffin Divorce.jpg

According to court documents, two days prior to their wedding, the couple argued over the contents of the prenuptial agreement and, at the suggestion of Ken Griffin, sought the advice and counsel of a psychologist. However, unbeknownst to Dias Griffin, the psychologist and her soon-to-be husband had a "past professional relationship."

During the session, Dias Griffin asserts the psychologist told her she was "being difficult" and urged her to sign the document. It was until several years later that Dias Griffin says she learned that her husband and the psychologist whom advised she sign the legal document knew one another.

Defending against his wife's claims and actions to invalidate the couple's prenup, Ken Griffin asserted that Dias Griffin violated the Illinois Mental Health & Developmental Disabilities Confidentiality Act when she divulged that the couple sought counseling. Additionally, Griffin, who is estimated to have a net worth of $5.5 billion, asserts his wife has already received roughly $40 million in payments pursuant to the prenuptial agreement. Griffin contends his wife's acceptance of these funds equates to ratifying the agreement.

While it's not yet known whether a judge will invalidate the prenuptial agreement, the divorce between the Griffins serves as an important reminder to anyone who plans to execute a prenup. Not only must individuals ensure they both agree to the terms outlined in a prenup, but both must also freely and willingly execute the document.

Source: Chicago Tribune, "Visit to psychologist is fair game in Griffin divorce, wife says," Becky Yerak, Nov. 11, 2014

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