Coercion could cost you in a divorce settlement claim

8th March 2015 by

 

While prenuptial agreements are still not legally binding in the UK (as at September 2014), if they are correctly negotiated and accurately drafted they can be a useful tool in a divorce financial settlement claim.

However, if any element of the negotiation process is not carried out as per family law guidelines, the court can choose to dismiss the document and not use it as guidance during its calculation of fair division.

To find out more about Healys’ solicitors for prenuptial agreements and how we can help you, please click here.

Coercion is not OK

In September 2014 a cautionary tale regarding prenuptial agreements was reported in the press and family lawyers from around the world took notice.

The case involved Ken and Ann Griffin who were embroiled in a multi-million dollar divorce settlement claim.

Mr Griffin was the chief executive of Citadel, a global financial institution based in Chicago, Illinois, and his divorce law suit against his former wife relied upon a prenuptial agreement which reportedly entitled Mrs Griffin to one percent of his wealth.

At the time, Mr Griffin’s assets were valued at $5.5 billion (£3.3 billion), so, if the prenup were to be upheld, Mrs Griffin would walk away from her marriage with $55 million.

However, in a counter-law suit, Mrs Griffin made an application to have the prenuptial agreement overturned saying that the matter of a marital property agreement was not raised until just days before the couple’s wedding.

She alleged that an argument ensued and Mr Griffin became so angry that he damaged a four-poster bed in their home so badly it collapsed. He later arranged for them to see a psychologist who, it is alleged, persuaded Mrs Griffin to sign the prenuptial agreement on the eve of the pre-wedding rehearsal dinner.

Mrs Griffin later discovered that the psychologist and her husband had a business relationship. Her divorce lawyers said in court papers, “Anne was unduly influenced by Kenneth and the psychologist under the guise of a counselling session with a neutral psychologist.”

Lawyers for Mr Griffin said this was “salacious and simply untrue”.

If a court finds that Mr Griffin used undue coercion in gaining agreement from his wife on the details of a prenuptial agreement, it court go on to award his wife a divorce settlement of more than $1 billion.

Get the right advice on marital property agreements

Healys divorce solicitors in London and Brighton can help you negotiate a prenuptial, postnuptial or pre-civil partnership agreement which could help to safeguard your best interests in the event of relationship breakdown.

While courts always have the right to determine the division of family assets upon divorce or civil-partnership dissolution, a well-drafted prenup or precip can help guide the court in understanding a couple’s intentions for their finances.

Talk to our friendly and approachable solicitors today.