How a prenuptial agreement could have protected a billionaire

For those in Harrisburg who have not heard, it is believed that the largest divorce settlement has recently been issued for $4.5 billion and millions of dollars’ in property. While the divorce did not happen in the U.S., much less in Pennsylvania, it can still serve as an important reminder for individuals entering a marriage with significant wealth to get a prenuptial agreement.

By working with a family law lawyer to create a prenuptial agreement or “prenup,” individuals can help protect the finances, assets and property they owned prior to getting married. In essence, a prenup allows for future spouses to determine how property should be divided in the event of a divorce. Generally, individuals will want to keep what they had going in and then equitablly distrubte what was earned while married, but couples can ultimately come up with whatever method of dividing their assets they want.

It is unknown if there was a prenup in this case or even if prenuptial agreements are recognized in Switzerland. It is somewhat unlikely that the couple would have had a prenuptial agreement, however, as they first met in university. Unless the billionaire already came from money, they probably met when they were on equal financial footing and, thus, may not have considered a prenup.

This is not to say that prenups are only for the extremely wealthy. Prenups can be useful for individuals who are getting married later in life, people who have children from previous relationships and, really, anyone. A family law lawyer can help to determine if a prenup makes sense given an individual’s circumstances.

Source: The Associated Press, “Russian oligarch faces $4.5 billion Swiss divorce,” John Heilprin, May 20, 2014