Prenuptials are far from uncommon for many married couples in New York. Unfortunately, the frequent use of prenups may have led to the misguided belief that any document signed before a marriage is valid. In reality, when and how a prenuptial agreement was signed can play a significant role in divorce proceedings.
Some readers may already be familiar with the ongoing divorce of billionaire Ken Griffin and his soon-to-be ex wife, Anne Dias Griffin. The couples prenuptial agreement has been a point of contention for the two, particularly whether it's even valid. Dias Griffin contended that she was under duress and forced to sign the agreement only shortly before their wedding. She claims that she was particularly influenced by a visit to a therapist who had a prior relationship with her husband that she was unaware of.
Griffin was apparently upset that Dias Griffin brought the therapy session up during the divorce, and even pointed to the Illinois Mental Health & Developmental Disabilities Confidentiality Act as what he believed to be proof that the visit wasn't even admissible during proceedings. Dias Griffin disagreed with his motion to have the visit stricken, saying that she could still disclose a visit that she attended. The judge listened to over an hour and a half of the couples' arguments before agreeing with Griffin, and striking the therapy session from the divorce proceedings.
This decision appears to have invalidated Dias Griffin's claim that she was coerced into signing an unfair prenuptial agreement. However, she may still argue that the terms of the agreement are unconscionable based on her husband's current wealth. For some of these reasons, couples in New York who are considering a prenuptial agreement may want to carefully evaluate every aspect of how and when the agreement is signed, as upon divorce either side may have to contend defend that agreement's validity.
Source: Chicago Tribune, "Ken Griffin wins divorce battle over visit to psychologist", Becky Yerak, Dec. 3, 2014