The Chicago Family Law Blog

Lawyer's Trainwreck Marriage Shows Need for Prenups, Planning

Amour fou. Crazy love. Smitten. These are all terms to describe that feeling when you fall blindly in love in an instant. It can be the greatest feeling in the world while it lasts, but it can also blind you to reality.

The Sun-Times shares the story of Christian, an attorney who fell quick and fell hard. At age 30, he met a 25-year-old dancer. She was gorgeous, "exotic," and had an "engaging personality," he told the paper. They got married six months later.

Long story short, she turned out to be a psychopath. She separated him from his friends and family by badmouthing them to her husband. She'd insult his friends, allegedly on his behalf. She kicked him in the ribs, breaking two of them. She also threw boiling water on him at one point.

Still, Christian tried to stick it out. The couple sought therapy. It turned out that she was bipolar and manic depressive. Their marriage eventually ended after two years and more psychotic acts committed.

At the end of the divorce process, she ended up walking away with half of his life savings and two years of hefty alimony payments. He suspects that his lawyer was sleeping with his ex-wife.

A prenuptial agreement, or postnuptial agreement, could have saved him a lot of trouble in this divorce. We understand the feeling of falling blindly in love. It's wonderful, blissful, and you think it will last forever. It often doesn't.

Christian could have protected his assets if he had obtained a prenuptial agreement. Such an agreement can classify existing assets, as well as future assets, as separate property. His savings could have easily been spared. In addition, a prenuptial agreement can somewhat protect against an award of alimony, though a court may not enforce an anti-alimony provision if it leaves an ex-spouse on welfare or below the poverty line.

A post-nuptial agreement, which we discussed earlier this week (and which we have since learned are becoming increasingly popular, according to the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers), could have accomplished the same goals. These are more difficult to draft and to uphold, but they will still be enforced if they are done in consideration of a change in the parties' relationship, such as Christian's agreement to return to the marriage and engage in couples' therapy.

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