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High-asset divorce helped along by post-nuptial agreement

Pennsylvania residents with relative wealth know that their divorces are likely to be somewhat different from those with fewer assets. These high-asset divorces depend on accurate asset valuation and careful division of marital property. Not surprisingly, even those in the heralded "1 percent" sometimes end their marriages.

This was the case for one of the nation's most well-known power-couples, who had dominated the real estate industry. The man's holdings were once so extensive that they were valued at $3 billion. After the American housing crisis, though, the couple's financial holdings were quickly devalued. The breakup was far more significant than most, though, as it signaled the end of a valuable business relationship that had united two of the nation's most successful real estate families.

The man is a well-off heir, the son of a real estate mogul who made his money in Depression-era businesses. Intending to go to law school, he instead took over the family business after his father was diagnosed with cancer. That business opportunity led him to marry the daughter of another real-estate magnate; the pair was engaged just 15 days after they first met. The man gambled on high-cost real estate in downtown New York, riding the industry boom from 2003 to 2006. His wife was heavily involved with interior design in the buildings.

When the economy began to fall just a year later, the man's partners accused him of siphoning money for his own uses. Then, he was forced to take out tens of millions in loans, and several judgments were levied against him after defaults. Things were looking quite dire.

A post-nuptial agreement gave the man's wife the rights to two homes, while he would be held responsible for property debt. She would also be entitled to artwork, jewelry and furnishings. Just five months after signing that document, the man filed for divorce.

Dividing real estate in high-asset divorces can be a burdensome challenge. This couple bypassed that issue by signing a post-nuptial agreement, a useful tool that mimics a prenup. Qualified Pennsylvania attorneys can help high-asset couples determine whether a post-nuptial agreement is right for their circumstances.

Source: New York Times, "With Fortune Falling, a 1 Percent Divorce" Julie Creswell, Feb. 01, 2014

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