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Prenuptial agreements can provide important protections

For business executives or others with very high income and substantial assets, becoming married can be a problematic step that could involve severe economic repercussions should the marriage turn out to be an ill-conceived mistake. Some individuals with children from prior marriages also want to protect them from the economic vagaries of a new marriage. These are a few reasons why someone in Florida or another state might find prenuptial agreements to be a serious option prior to tying the proverbial knot.

The importance of prenuptial agreements is highlighted by looking at the biggest divorces in history. It's generally recognized that Rupert Murdoch holds the title for the most expensive divorce ever when he paid Anna Murdoch $1.7 billion in 1999 after some 30 years of marriage and no prenuptial agreement. Lately, that record is being involuntarily challenged by oil magnate Harold Hamm, the CEO and founder of Continental Resources.

Why would Hamm be able to overtake Murdoch's record? Mainly, he has no prenuptial agreements to protect his holdings. Also, his assets were largely accumulated during his marriage to Sue Ann Hamm, who he married in 1988. That means that, without a prenuptial agreement, everything is presumed to be owned as marital property and not Hamm's separate property.

Coincidentally, Murdoch recently announced his divorce from current wife, Wendi Deng. But Murdoch won't come close to Hamm. This trip around, Murdoch had his stable of lawyers protect his assets by having Deng sign a prenuptial prior to their marriage. Hamm, however, being unprotected and facing a spouse who actually worked at building up Continental's economic success, is expected to pay out up to about $3 billion for the divorce.

A $3 billion recovery would make Sue Ann Hamm one of the twentieth wealthiest women in America. If you are a Florida resident who is considering the use of prenuptial agreements, you can get the answers to all of your questions by consulting with an experienced family law professional prior to the marriage. Although some people consider this practice to be 'unromantic' and not in keeping with mutual feelings of marital bliss, it's a necessary evil where economic factors or personal considerations demand that a degree of caution be practiced.

Source: Huffington Post, "Divorce Settlement: Will Harold Hamm's Divorce Be The Most Expensive Ever?" June 20, 2013

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