It is very common for high income and high net worth individuals to enter into a prenuptial agreement before they marry. In Connecticut high asset and high income divorces, the enforcement of prenups can become a litigated issue. There are statutes in Connecticut, as well as case law, that affect whether or not the terms of a premarital agreement control who gets what in the event of divorce.
A current example of litigation involving a court enforcing a prenup is currently going on in Texas. James Dondero, a hedge fund mogul, and his wife Rebecca signed a prenup. Reportedly, she has been making numerous and novel arguments in Texas courts to avoid its enforcement. (See New York Post article dated November 29, 2013.) Among them, apparently, is seeking to have it treated by the court as a contract controlled by contract law, to avoid its enforceability as a premarital agreement.
In Connecticut divorces, prenups, a shortened term for prenuptial agreements, also known as antenuptial agreements, are generally enforceable if they are correctly prepared and executed. They have even been enforced in what some might consider to be inequitable circumstances, where there have been major changes in circumstances after they were signed, or they have been signed under questionable circumstances.
In Winchester v. McCue, 91 Conn.App.721 (2005), the Husband’s assets increased by approximately 430 percent over the course of the marriage. The Wife tried to avoid the impact of the terms of the prenuptial agreement but the court enforced it. In Crews v. Crews, 295 Conn.153 (2010) the Supreme Court of Connecticut overturned the trial court’s decision holding an unambiguous antenuptial agreement unenforceable where the trial court found that financial circumstances had changed dramatically rendering the agreement unenforceable.
Frequently, however, where there is a properly prepared and signed prenuptial agreement, divorces can be resolved simply and efficiently The bottom line is that it is always advisable to seek a qualified lawyer’s assistance regarding drafting a prenuptial agreement, and when evaluating its enforceability in the event of divorce or death.