Billionaire’s Wife Seeks to Void Prenuptial Agreement

Posted by Steven D. Eversole | Oct 02, 2014 | 0 Comments

For celebrities, athletes, and upper echelon earners, prenuptial agreements are not just a suggestion—but a necessity. Despite the popularity of prenuptial agreements among high-asset couples, enforcement is not always a sure thing. According to a recent CNBC report the wife of a hedge fund billionaire is seeking to void a prenuptial agreement. The couple had been married for 11 years before he surprised his wife by filing divorce papers. Now the wife has responded to her husband's move for divorce by filing a petition with a formal request for sole custody of children, removal of the children from Illinois to New York, and most surprisingly to legal authorities, an argument that the prenuptial agreement finalized in 2003 was signed under duress and should be voided.

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Prenuptial agreement requirements may vary by state, but the majority of states have similar requirements to validate a prenuptial agreement. No prenuptial agreement can be made in duress and each party must have independent counsel to ensure that their rights are properly represented. Full disclosure of assets and liabilities must be made well in advance and both parties must also have capacity to sign the contract. Every state may impose additional requirements but the bottom line is that prenuptial agreements can be challenged on a number of grounds. In this case, the prenuptial agreement will play a critical role in the divorce settlement. Invalidation of the contract could result in a windfall for the billionaire's ex-wife.

Whether you are in a high-asset divorce, considering a prenuptial agreement, or have questions about an existing prenuptial agreement, it is important to have a clear understanding of your rights and responsibilities. Our Birmingham divorce lawyers are committed to protecting the rights of our clients and in creating legitimate prenuptial agreements that will hold up in court. Our legal team will take the time to review your assets and interests and develop a strategic course of legal action to protect your rights.

According to Forbes, the Citadel hedge fund founder has a net worth of $5.5 billion. His wife is professionally successful in her own right, a Harvard Business School graduate who previously ran her own investment firm. Since the couple married, the hedge fund owner's wife primarily spends her time raising the couple's children. Throughout their marriage, the couple continued to make public appearances at social events, though court documents allege that the hedge fund owner moved out in February of 2012 and spent little time with the children. This could impact his rights to custody in the future.

The prenuptial agreement was signed the day before their wedding in Versailles in July of 2003. According to the filings, there was no draft of the document presented until shortly before the wedding. His financial details were not disclosed and a fight broke out between them. His wife alleges that she signed the contract under duress, which could be grounds for invalidation. Additional court filings from the wife allege that her husband surprised her with the divorce petition while she was on vacation with her children. While they were away, he moved furniture from the family home and took pieces of valuable art from their Chicago home.

The stakes for invalidation of the prenuptial are high. If the agreement remains in place, she will be entitled to $50 million. If invalidated, she could be entitled to up to half of the $5.5 billion.

About the Author

Steven D. Eversole

J.D., Samford University's Cumberland School of Law, Birmingham, Alabama B.A., University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, Alabama

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