For couples with substantial assets, a prenuptial agreement is often part of the discussion before they marry. A prenuptial agreement typically describes the distribution of marital property for the couple should they divorce. Prenuptial agreements present something of a quandary for individuals who are paradoxically promising their love to each other “’til death do us part,” and at the same time, allocating portions of their assets in a future divorce.
Prenuptial agreements were once looked upon warily by court in Missouri and elsewhere, but most jurisdictions now permit their use. For couples with disproportionate assets, they could help reduce potential for conflict, as they allow both parties to the marriage to know in advance what the division of property will look like and help set expectations.
But they are not foolproof, and they must meet certain standards for most court to find them valid. A dispute involving a hedge fund manager and his wife will test the validity of their prenuptial agreement and could substantially change the distribution of marital assets in their divorce.
Their prenuptial agreement limits her distribution to 1 percent of his billions. She has alleged the agreement is invalid because she was forced to sign the agreement the day before their wedding.
She claims he become violent and “destroyed” furniture during an argument three days before their wedding. The next day, a psychologist he choose, convinced her to “give in” and sign the agreement.
If she can prove these facts, she may be able to invalidate the prenuptial. Because of the potential for abuse, courts generally prefer to see a prenuptial agreement that was prepared well before the wedding, with full disclosure of the financial condition of each party.
In addition, the agreement is likely to be stronger if it both parties are represented by their own attorney during the discussions.