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Billionaire’s wife claims prenuptial agreement coercion

Texas courts want to make sure engaged couples don't enter into financial contracts hastily. Individuals must have adequate time to consider the provisions of a prenuptial agreement and may not be pressured into signing. A premarital contract may be tossed out by a judge, convinced a signature was the result of threats or force.

The wife of a Midwestern billionaire claims she signed a prenuptial agreement the day before she got married. The wife, in the midst of a divorce, recently asked a court to invalidate the agreement.

The complaint alleges the prenuptial agreement would strip the wife of all but one percent of her husband's $5 billion fortune, much of which apparently was accumulated during the couple's 11-year marriage. The wife alleges she was coerced into signing the prenup hours before a wedding rehearsal dinner. The woman also argued her fiancé became violent and broke a piece of furniture during an argument about the prenup, a few days before the wedding.

The complaint said the husband-to-be did not reveal the financial terms of the agreement until the last minute, giving the woman little time to consider the contract terms. The petition also stated the man engaged the services of a psychologist to convince the engaged woman to sign. The bride-to-be apparently didn't know her fiancé and the counselor already had a professional relationship.

The woman learned about her husband's July divorce filing, after the story had been picked up by the media. She claimed her husband removed property from their home, where he had not resided since 2012, while the wife and the couple's three children were vacationing. The husband said the allegations were "inflammatory" and "untrue."

Texas prenuptial agreements can provide valuable asset protection during divorce. Contracts must be fair and signed by individuals with a full understanding of the agreement. Lawyers advise negotiating and settling pre-marital financial agreements long before a wedding date.

Source: Chicago Tribune, "Griffin divorce: Wife claims prenup shouldn't be enforceable" Becky Yerak, Sep. 02, 2014

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