The Law Office of Karen H. Beckman

Coercion alleged to be a factor in power couple’s prenup agreement

In high asset divorce cases, having an ironclad prenuptial agreement is an enormous asset. Unfortunately, ensuring that a prenuptial agreement cannot reasonably be challenged is not always an easy task. In some cases, though, it can be surprising to see the circumstances surrounding what was assumed to be a legitimate agreement.

Take the case of Ken and Anne Griffin, the power couple from Illinois. The two had been married for eleven years when Ken filed for divorce over the summer. Last week, Anne filed her response petition. One of the issues she is set to challenge is the validity of the couple’s prenuptial agreement, which she claims she signed under duress. 

Anne contends that she was coerced into signing the prenuptial agreement by not having had enough time to contemplate it, witnessing her husband violently react when she reacted unfavorably, and being told by his psychologist that she should sign the agreement. According to Ken, the allegations are untrue, but that will be a matter to be decided at trial.

Under the terms of the agreement, Anne is set to receive a mere one percent of her husband’s over $5 million of wealth. If the agreement is thrown out and she obtains equitable distribution of the property, she would end up receiving significantly more than that.

The case is a good reminder of the importance of taking things slowly and deliberately in a time when prenuptial agreements are becoming more and more common in the United States, even among those of modest wealth. Couple’s who both obtain separate attorneys, who begin the negotiation process well in advance of marriage, and who ensure proper execution of their agreement have a much better chance of avoiding prenup disputes in the event of divorce.

Source: Business Insider, “Wife Of Hedge Funder Ken Griffin Says She Was Coerced Into Signing A Horrible Prenup,” Julia La Roche, September 3, 2014. 

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The Law Office of Karen H. Beckman

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