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Billion Dollar Divorce

family law attorney in New YorkHarold Hamm, the Chief Executive and majority shareholder of Continental Resources, has been ordered to pay $1 billion dollars to his wife in a divorce settlement by a court in Oklahoma. It is estimated Harold is worth more than $18 billion dollars. Forbes magazine has named him as the 24th richest man in the United States. This $1 billion dollar settlement is in addition to the $25 million dollars he has already paid to his wife during the course of the divorce litigation.

Once his wife receives this money, she will become one of the richest women in America. The money is to be paid on the following payout schedule: $320 million dollars by the end of 2014; thereafter $7 million dollars a month until the entire balance is paid.

Prenuptial Agreements

Mr. Hamm is known as a very crafty businessman. However, he did not obtain a prenuptial agreement prior to going into this second marriage. A prenuptial agreement would have saved him almost $1 billion dollars!

Mr. Hamm married his wife Sue Ann in 1988. She was ten years younger than him. He was a multimillionaire at the time he married her. His wealth came from purchasing more than 1 million acres of land leases in North Dakota, Montana and parts of Canada. This area is known as the Bakken Formation. This area has some of the largest shale oil deposits in the world. The use of fracking and horizontal drilling allowed Mr. Hamm to develop the oil fields that other oil men thought were worthless.

Oklahoma Law and Divorces

Under Oklahoma law, the money one party to a marriage earns is part of the marital estate for divorce purposes only if it is made through that individual’s skill. In the event the increase in assets relates to “changing economic conditions or circumstances beyond the parties’ control,” the money is not subject to being distributed between the spouses. In this case, Mr. Hamm a very accomplished and successful businessman, claimed that he was just lucky to buy the 1 million acres where the shale oil reserves were located. Unfortunately for him, the judge on the case found his success was due to his skills and efforts which increased the value of Continental Resources, the oil company in which he was the largest shareholder.

Russian Oligarch Divorce

This is not the largest divorce payment by a man to a woman in history. A Russian oligarch named Dmitry Rybolovlez recently paid his wife Elena $4.8 billion dollars in a divorce settlement.divorce attorney on Long Island

Should You Get A Prenuptial Agreement

On today’s video blog we address the question of whether you should get a prenuptial agreement before entering into a marriage:

Elliot S. Schlissel is a family law attorney. He can be reached at 1-800-344-6431 or by email at elliot@sdny.com

Prenuptial Agreements and Social Media Issues

matrimonial attorneysThe standard prenuptial agreement which has been utilized by lawyers in New York for more than a hundred years usually deals with financial issues. The issues involve how much, if any, spousal maintenance there will be in the event of a divorce. How property will be equitably distributed in divorce situations? What is separate property and what is marital property and a variety of other issues. However, there is a new issue being dealt with in prenuptial agreements. The issue involves publications on social media sites.

The Social Media Clause in a Prenuptial Agreement

The social media clause in prenuptial agreements is designed to prevent one of the parties to the marriage from publishing their dirty laundry all over the internet. An example of the type of restrictions contained in social media clauses involves forbidding each party to the agreement from publishing on any social media site, or tweeting any information, whether it be positive or negative, derogatory, embarrassing, including but not limited to, written material, photographs, documents and images of the parties on any social media site.

It should be noted even affirmative statements about the other party can be restricted with regard to a properly drafted, restrictive clause concerning publications on social media.

Social Media Issues

The purpose of the social media clause in prenuptial agreements deals with preventing people from exposing their divorce problems on the internet. There is a proliferation today of embarrassing photographs spouses have been publishing on the internet about each other. Inappropriate postings on websites can have a negative effect on a spouse’s profession, business situation, and employment. Unhappily married individuals have been taking to the internet to disparage their spouses. The purpose of these clauses is to prevent this type of negative behavior.

Enforcing Social Media Restrictions in Prenuptial Agreements

So now that we have explored the topic of putting a social media restriction clause in your prenuptial agreement, how do we enforce it? The only means of enforcing these types of clauses is putting in a monetary penalty in the agreement for violation of the terms of the agreement. The penalty can be of such an onerous nature that it will deter a spouse from publishing nude pictures of you, embarrassing you, or writing things on the internet on social media sites which may destroy your reputation or ability to earn a living. However, be advised if your spouse has no assets, the penalty clause may not work and without a penalty clause the social media restrictions are hard to enforce.

Conclusion

The divorce rate in New York is almost 50%. With divorce rates this high, prenuptial agreements have become more popular. The numerous social media websites which exist on the internet can be inappropriately utilized in a divorce situation to embarrass a spouse. The purpose of the social media clause is to try to stop this from happening.assistance in family court and with custody litigation

Setting Aside a Prenuptial Agreement

family law and divorce attorney on Long IslandPrenuptial agreements are becoming more common in marriages. This is especially true in second marriages. Individuals who have gone through difficult divorces in their first marriage are more likely to desire to have a prenuptial agreement to simplify matters should they divorce in their second or third marriages.

Form Documents and Internet Prenuptial Forms

There are numerous forms available in form books and on a variety of websites on the internet with regard to the preparation by individuals of their own prenuptial agreements without retaining counsel. Many of these forms found on the internet are uniform documents which claim to be valid in all states. Individuals taking this route expose themselves to the risk the document they execute may not be valid.

Prenuptial Agreements in New York

For a prenuptial agreement to be declared invalid in the State of New York, one party must show to a court the agreement was a product of fraud, duress, or another type of inequitable conduct. Courts also look into issues concerning overreaching when determining whether a prenuptial agreement is valid. Courts seek to review whether prenuptial agreements were fair and reasonable at the time they were executed.

Burden of Proof in Setting Aside a Prenuptial Agreement

The party to the marriage who seeks to set aside the prenuptial agreement has the burden of proof to demonstrate the facts in support of his or her allegations the agreement should be set aside due to fraud, duress or overreaching.

Unconscionability

Under the theory of unconscionability a court will set aside a prenuptial agreement that is so unfair no honest and fair individual would accept this agreement. Courts also will set aside agreements they believe shock the conscience with regard to their terms. The issue of what will shock a court’s conscience is at this time not completely clear.

Execution of Documents on the Eve of Weddings

The fact that a prenuptial agreement is executed shortly before a wedding ceremony takes place is not, in and of itself, a valid reason to set the agreement aside. In situations where one party is represented by an attorney and the other party is not, will not, in and of itself, be sufficient to set aside a prenuptial agreement.

The best way to ascertain a prenuptial agreement will not be set aside is for each of the parties to be represented by competent counsel and the prenuptial agreement should be the result of negotiations. The parties should only execute the agreement after it is fully explained by each of the parties’ respective attorneys.divorce attorney in Metropolitan New York

Who Needs a Prenuptial Agreement?

family law and divorce attorney on Long IslandPrenuptial agreements are not for everyone. The only individuals eligible for prenuptial agreements are people getting married. Seriously though, who needs a prenuptial agreement and why would you really want one?

Prenuptial Agreements deal with issues such as assets accumulated during the marriage, professional licenses and spousal maintenance issues.

Starting On Equal Terms

Many couples who marry have similar financial circumstances. However, during the course of the marriage, one party may decide to stay home and raise the children which would have a negative impact on his or her career. This provides a ground in a divorce for requests for alimony (spousal maintenance).

Prenuptial Agreements Cost Less Than Engagement Rings

Engagement rings today cost anywhere between $5000 and $25,000. A prenuptial agreement will usually cost between $2500 and $7500. It is a lot cheaper than an engagement ring. It is said that diamonds last forever. Diamonds in the engagement ring may last forever but 50% of all marriages fail. This makes the cost of prenuptial agreements when considered over the long run a lot less expensive.

Don’t Wait For The Last Minute

If you anticipate entering into a prenuptial agreement with your future spouse, you shouldn’t wait to a few weeks before the marriage to retain an attorney to draft the document. Prenuptial agreements should be negotiated several months before the parties get married.

Prenuptial Agreement Lawyers

assistance in family court and with prenuptial agreementsThe attorneys at the Law Offices of Schlissel DeCorpo draft prenuptial agreements. It addition we draft post nuptial agreements and separation agreements. The firm also litigates all divorce issues. These issues may involve divorce grounds, family law, child custody, changing visitation, child abuse and child neglect, drafting separation agreements, prenuptial and post nuptial agreements. We also have litigated cases involving mothers’ rights and fathers’ rights. Call for a free consultation.

Prenuptial Agreement Set Aside By Court

prenup-150x125A wife recently brought a proceeding before Judge Anthony J. Falanga in the Supreme Court located in Nassau County. She claimed in this proceeding the 1998 prenuptial agreement she executed should be set aside. She alleged her husband fraudulently induced her into signing the agreement. She was convinced to sign the prenuptial agreement because of her spouse’s promise to destroy it upon the birth of the couple’s first child. He promised as soon as the first child was born all of the assets of the marriage will be placed in both her and his name.

Husband Duped Wife Into Executing the Prenuptial Agreement

Judge Falanga carefully reviewed the evidence submitted to him on this case. He rendered a decision declaring the prenuptial agreement null and void. He found the husband had made promises to the wife at the time of the execution of the agreement. These promises were lies and misrepresentations. The husband had no intention of carrying out these promises. He only made these promises for the purpose of convincing the wife to sign the prenuptial agreement so the wedding would take place.

The court noted the husband only provided the wife with a copy of the agreement a short time prior to the wedding date. Judge Falanga stated “this was calculated and speaks volumes as to the importance he attributed to being protected financially from a possible failed marriage.” The court in it’s decision stated “the wife had justifiably placed her trust in her future husband’s representations to her detriment and was damaged by being denied a share of significant marital property.”

Conclusion

If you’re entering into a prenuptial agreement, it should be prepared long in advance of the wedding and trickery should not be used to induce a party to execute the agreement.

New York Divorce Lawyers

The attorneys at the Law Offices of Schlissel DeCorpo have extensive experience in drafting prenuptial agreements as well as postnuptial agreements. They also have been litigating high net worth divorces for decades. Should you find yourself in a divorce situation they can assist you with issues involving divorce grounds, child custody, division of property and mediation of the divorce. In appropriate situations, they negotiate separation agreements on behalf of their clients. Call for a free consultation with regard to any family court or divorce matter. The phone numbers are 1-800-344-6431 or 516-561-6645 or 718-350-2802.

Prenuptial Agreement In, Lawyer Out

pre-150x136Supreme Court Justice Daniel Palmari recently disqualified Jeffrey S. Stephens from representing Edward Scannapieco, pursuant to a New York ethics rule that bars an attorney from working as an advocate in a case when his presence may have a “significant issue effect.”

Justice Palmari found that attorney Stephens of Greenwich, Connecticut, had “testified because he had submitted an affirmation to the court indicating the facts related to the execution of an undisclosed pre-nuptial agreement.” The pre-nuptial agreement is being contested by Machiell Scannapieco.

Justice Palmari stated his decision, “counsel here was a major participant in the event, as such his testimony is relevant to significant factual issues.” Mr. & Mrs. Scannapieco were married December 30, 1989. Mrs. Scannapieco filed for divorce in 2010.

Mr. Scannapieco brought a proceeding to deny his wife spousal maintenance. He indicated in his motion that there was a November, 1989 pre-nuptial agreement that limited Mrs. Scannapieco’s right to obtain spousal maintenance. He initially was unable to locate the document, but he found it shortly prior to bringing the application to the court.

Attorney Stephens stated in his court papers, “he prepared the agreement, negotiated the changes with an unidentified attorney representing the plaintiff-wife and he only recently found it in storage.”

Justice Palmari indicated in his decision that the application of the pre-nuptial agreement will have to wait until the discovery process in the divorce proceeding is concluded. But since attorney Stephens may be a witness in this proceeding, he cannot represent one of the litigants. Justice Palmari stated, in referring to an earlier Nassau County decision, “that the preventing of an attorney from representing a litigant in a case where the lawyer may be a witness prevents any unfairness from arising from the lawyer’s opportunity to present his case twice.”

Justice Palmari indicated in his decision that since the case was in the initial stages, the elimination of Mr. Stephens from representing Mr. Scannapieco will not create a “substantial hardship.”

Fathers’ Rights Lawyers

The Law Offices of Schlissel DeCorpo has been litigating fathers’ rights matters for more than thirty years. We have extensive experience in representing fathers in divorce proceedings, regarding orders of protection, concerning issues involving child custody, child visitation, child support and spousal maintenance (alimony). We have litigated child abuse and child neglect proceedings on behalf of fathers involving Child Protective Services and Association for Child Services. We have brought proceedings requesting the reduction of child support for fathers. We can assist fathers concerning no-fault divorce issues, equitable distribution of assets, family relocation problems, as well as negotiating separation agreements. We are also very knowledgeable concerning the parental alienation of children by mothers. Feel free to call us at your earliest convenience should you need a fathers’ rights attorney. Our phone numbers are 1-800- 344-6431, 516-561-6645 or 718-350-2802.

Prenuptial Agreement between American Male and French Woman

divorce1-150x1503Judge Kaplan, sitting in the Southern District of New York (a federal court), was recently presented with an issue as to whether the United States or France should interpret the terms of a prenuptial agreement. The wife in this situation was a citizen of France. The husband was a citizen of the United States. They had entered into a prenuptial agreement and were married in the United States on January 10, 2004.

A divorce action was subsequently brought in the courts in France by the husband. Thereafter, the husband (the American citizen) brought a second divorce action in the state of New York. In his divorce action, he asked the State of New York to render a decision with regard to each parties’ rights under the prenuptial agreement they had entered into prior to the marriage. The case was eventually removed from the New York State courts and was heard before the United States District Court by Judge Kaplan, sitting in the Southern District of New York. The wife requested that the lawsuit be dismissed on the basis of forum nonconvenience grounds because the matter was already pending in France.

Judge Kaplan rendered a decision that the case should be handled by the courts in France. He therefore dismissed the case brought in the Southern District of New York. In his decision, he stated that the French courts could resolve all of the disputes concerning the prenuptial agreement. Since the lawsuit in France was originally brought by the husband – an American citizen – this acted as an acknowledgment that the French court was the appropriate forum to decide all issues involving prenuptial agreements. The court also stated that there was no local public interest that was necessary to adjudicate in the court located in the Southern District of New York.

About Our Firm
Our office has extensive experience in drafting prenuptial and postnuptial agreements on behalf of our clients. In these agreements, we protect both mothers’ rights and fathers’ rights in divorces and Family Court proceedings. We also litigate custody and visitation proceedings in the Supreme Court and the Family Court.
We also assist our clients in cases where the appropriate remedy to deal with their marital problems is to have the marriage annulled. Our office is also handling numerous cases related to the new New York no fault divorce law. Feel free to contact us. You can reach us at 1-800-344-6431, 516-561-6645 or 718-350-2802.
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