A fascinating divorce case currently playing out here in Florida is making national headlines as it almost seems like something out of a television drama, involving millions of dollars in assets, a longstanding feud between stepchildren and a second wife, and questions as to the extent of a dementia diagnosis.
The case in question involves an 87-year-old real estate investor who married his 80-year-old second wife back in 2000 after dating for seven years. Prior to the marriage, the second wife signed a prenuptial agreement indicating that if the couple doesn’t divorce, she receives up to $10 million in assets in the event of his death or incapacity.
The aforementioned legal battle began in earnest last year, when one of the real estate investor’s three adult children filed a guardianship petition in probate court arguing that his father was no longer competent to oversee his affairs and that the second wife was neglecting his care.
After hearing conflicting testimony, the judge ultimately ruled in favor of the son, ordering the second wife out of the home and granting his request that the majority of his father’s rights be taken away absent the ability to file lawsuits.
This is significant, say the attorneys representing the second wife, as the terms of the prenuptial agreement dictate that it can only be undone by the real estate investor, and no one else, filing for divorce.
For her part, the adult children have depicted the second wife as being motivated by nothing more than the money, while the second wife has depicted the adult children as being similarly greedy and manipulating their father’s delicate mental condition, convincing him that he wants a divorce.
The real estate developer did eventually end up filing for divorce, meaning the $10 million in assets promised under the prenuptial agreement is now up in the air, largely dependent upon the finding of the circuit court judge.
Specifically, while he cannot overturn the finding of the probate court judge that the real estate investor is mentally incompetent, he can find that he is an incompetent witness, unable to understand the proceedings and whether he wants to divorce his second wife.
A finding that he is mentally incompetent would mean that he couldn’t be divorced and the prenuptial agreement was still in force, such that the second wife prevails. A finding that he is mentally competent would mean the divorce proceeds and the prenuptial agreement is thrown out, such that the adult children prevail insofar as the second wife wouldn’t be automatically be given millions of dollars.
Stay tuned for updates on this truly fascinating and legally complex case.
If you would like to learn more about the divorce process or have concerns about a particular divorce-related issue, consider speaking with an experienced legal professional as soon as possible.