Prenuptial agreement to be key in Griffin divorce

Those who follow the New York and national financial scene may be familiar with Kenneth C. Griffin and wife Anne Dias Griffin, two high-rolling hedge fund managers with a penchant for lavish living. The couple, who now reside in Chicago, are seeking a divorce in Illinois courts, citing irreconcilable differences. Initially, it was thought that their divorce would be rather low-key because of a comprehensive prenuptial agreement; however, a domestic dispute is threatening the privacy of their divorce proceedings. The woman, age 43, says that she was blindsided by the divorce filing by her 45-year-old husband.

The man is the leader of a $20 billion investment firm called Citadel. It does not appear that the divorce will have any effect on that business nor will it be influential on the woman's own investment firm. That is because the couple apparently signed a thorough prenuptial agreement dividing their assets, according to the divorce documents. Under the terms of that agreement, the woman would receive a cash settlement in the event of a divorce, but the man would keep the couple's real estate holdings and art collection. It is not yet clear whether the woman intends to contest the terms.

Attorneys in the case say that the man unfairly failed to notify his wife that he would be pursuing the divorce proceedings. Instead, they say, he waited until the woman left for vacation with their kids, ensuring that she would not be able to respond to the filing. However, sources say that the pair have lived separately for about a year, so the split should not have come as a surprise.

High asset divorcees can benefit from the ease that comes along with prenuptial agreements but so can couples in lower income brackets. If you are a business owner like both of these people, you might consider a pre-marital agreement to keep your operation intact in the event of a divorce. Making these decisions ahead of time will not necessarily preclude the drama of a breakup -- but it can make the legal aspect of the divorce easier.

Source: The New York Times, "A Divorce That Thrusts Ken Griffin and Anne Dias Griffin Into the Spotlight" Michael J. De La Merced and Alexandra Stevenson, Jul. 24, 2014

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