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High asset couple had no prenuptial agreement

Many people who have amassed a significant volume of wealth are concerned with how to protect those assets in the event of a divorce. That said, not everyone in Colorado is willing to negotiate a prenuptial agreement as they prepare to wed, often for fear of upsetting their soon-to-be spouse. When a high asset marriage ends, however, many of those same people wish that they had taken that important wealth preservation step, as they enter into the divorce process with little or no protection.

An example is found in the recently announced divorce between a jet-setting couple who married in 2008. They did not sign a prenuptial agreement at that time, and their divorce case is showing signs of becoming incredibly complex. Because the spouses have homes in multiple jurisdictions and travel and work internationally, there are issues of venue involved, as well as early accusations of wrongdoing within the divorce case itself.

The wife claims that her husband surprised her with the divorce filing. She asserts that her husband removed a sizeable portion of the couple's valuable art collection from one of their homes prior to filing for divorce. The value of the paintings that were taken from their Manhattan home is estimated at more than $25 million. The collection includes original art by Andy Warhol, Basquiat and Damien Hirst, among many other painters.

The husband claims that the decision to sell the collection was no surprise to the wife and that the paintings are his personal property, not marital assets. One of the paintings has already been put up for auction. The wife has filed a motion asking the court to block the sale of any artwork. Her husband filed the divorce action in Monaco, where he claims to have established residency. A challenge on venue is likely in the case, as the laws governing divorce vary greatly from one location to another.

This case serves as an illustration of the risks of entering into a marriage without a prenuptial agreement in place. A properly drafted prenup can serve to protect the interests of both parties, and it is a solid financial planning tool. In the best outcomes, these protections are never needed to be called into action. In the event that a Colorado marriage does end in divorce, however, a prenup can make the property division process far easier to manage.  

Source:, "Woman claims husband took $25M worth of art before filing for divorce: lawsuit", Ginger Adams Otis, Nov. 10, 2015

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