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Griffin prenup challenged by wife in property division dispute

It may seem cynical to discuss a prenuptial agreement with a view to what one wants to happen in the event of divorce. Some people may feel that it is necessary if, for example, one spouse has significantly greater wealth or earns more than the other. California is a community property state, and prenuptial agreements are usually intended to safeguard property division if a divorce subsequently becomes a reality.

In recent weeks, Kenneth Griffin -- founder and CEO of a multi-billion dollar investment firm -- began divorce proceedings in another state against his wife, Anne Dias Griffin. His wife's attorneys are now challenging the prenuptial agreement, which they say was presented to her three days before the marriage in 2003. Among other things, they claim that the document was deliberately withheld from Dias Griffin until the 11th hour, at which time she was intimidated into executing the document.

Dias Griffin also contends that a significant level of assets were accumulated while they were married. If the prenuptial agreement was to be upheld, then the amount she would be able to claim would be in the region of 1 percent of Griffin's total fortune. In addition, the parties have been unable to agree on the significance of other events leading to their marriage -- and subsequent divorce in Illinois -- or the custody arrangements for their children.

Divorce courts, in general, honor the terms of a prenuptial agreement unless there is evidence of fraud or overreaching, or one or more terms violate public policy. It remains to be seen how the divorce court in Illinois will decide the disputed property division issues concerning the Griffins' prenuptial agreement. In California, a community property state, prenups are regularly used and typically upheld by our courts.

Source: Chicago Tribune, "Griffin divorce: Anne Diaz Griffin claims prenup shouldn't be enforceable", Becky Yerak, Sep. 3, 2014

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