Hedge-fund billionaire Kenneth Griffin and his soon to be ex-wife, Anne Dias Griffin, may be heading to court to resolve their prenuptual agreement dispute over the legitimacy of a prenup she signed the night before their wedding in 2003.
Mr. Griffin, who is the founder of the hedge fund Citidel based out of Chicago, has a net worth estimated at $5.5 billion, according to Forbes. Mrs. Griffin, a Harvard Business School graduate who formerly ran her own investment firm, is contending that the prenuptial agreement the couple signed in 2003 is invalid. Mrs. Griffin asserts that she signed the prenuptial agreement on the eve of the couples wedding under duress and undue influence. If the prenuptial agreement dispute is deemed valid, she will likely be entitled to assets worth only 1 percent of Mr. Griffin’s net worth, or about $50 million. If the prenuptial agreement is found to be invalid, she could be entitled to significantly more.
A last minute prenuptial agreement can be a costly mistake. In Massachusetts, as in most jurisdictions, the prenuptial agreement must be valid at the time of its signing, and comply with the fundamental rules of contract law, including absence of fraud, misrepresentation, duress, and fair disclosure.
Keep in mind that a prenup should be drawn up well in advance before saying “I do.” Since most prenuptial agreements take a few weeks or even months to negotiate and finalize, it is important that it is not put off until the last minute, when there is not enough time to negotiate and finalize the agreement before the wedding. To avoid a prenuptial agreement dispute, couples should each hire their own attorney to advise them, and be prepared to disclose all bank accounts, business ownerships, investments and property they own. Failure to disclose these assets could result in the agreement being deemed invalid by a court.