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Prenup at heart of high-profile Illinois divorce

Prenuptial agreements are contracts that couples agree to at the time of marriage in order to account for a substantial disparity in incomes and/or assets between the two parties. As a result, they are legally binding and enforceable at the time of divorce. That does not necessarily mean, however, that people seeking divorce in the state of Illinois cannot challenge the terms of their prenup agreement.

The Uniform Prenuptial Agreement Act sets the guidelines by which prenuptial contracts are designed and enforced, and is recognized by the state of Illinois and many others across the country. Therefore, efforts to legally challenge the validity of a prenuptial agreement must address specific conditions of the contract. Fraud, for instance, is one of the most popular claims made in disputes over the validity of a prenup. Another argument that some people make is that the prenup in question is unconscionable. Some argue, however, that the entire purpose of a prenup is to preserve the uneven distribution of assets between divorcing parties. Lastly, a person can claim that he or she was coerced into signing a prenuptial contract. However, legal experts note that the level of coercion must be excessive.

All of the claims listed above were made by the wife of an Illinois hedge fund billionaire in their recent divorce dispute. The couple’s 12-year-old prenuptial agreement currently limits the wife’s divorce settlement to one percent of the husband’s some $5 billion fortune. Navigating the terms of a prenup agreement during divorce proceedings can be increasingly complex. Speaking with an attorney early in the process can be helpful in understanding one’s legal rights and obligations under the contract.

Source: 25 CNBC, “How safe is a prenup? Breaking it up can be hard to do, lawyers say,” Robert Frank, Sep. 3, 2014

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