Years after divorce, city’s richest couple fights over assets

While asking your future spouse to enter into a premarital agreement may seem awkward and unromantic, a prenuptial agreement is actually one of the most thoughtful things you can do for someone you love. By making decisions about assets and finances while you are still in love, you can protect your future spouse, as well as yourself, in the event of a divorce.

This is a lesson investor Charles Brandes and his ex-wife Linda are discovering the hard way. While their asset division battle is taking place in California, it could just as easily be happening here in Ohio or any other state.

Charles and Linda were once considered to be San Diego’s richest couple. According to news sources, Charles is worth $1.5 billion, while Linda is worth roughly $93 million. They got divorced in 2004, but they have been fighting over hundreds of millions of dollars in assets ever since.

When they met, Linda was working at a library, making $6 an hour. Charles was a money manager bringing in $181,000 a year. When they married in 1986, they did not enter into a written prenuptial agreement, although they apparently had an oral premarital agreement, which was disputed.

Later, Charles founded Brandes Investment Partners, a group which concentrates on oil, banks and communications. By investing well, Charles eventually built a fortune. However, Linda contributed to his career success, motivating him, helping him upgrade his wardrobe, hiring a speech coach for him, encouraging him to “fix his nose” and urging him to work longer hours.

At this time, Linda gets $500,000 per month in spousal support. However, she has requested that the amount be increased to $750,000. But, that is not all. She is also requesting a portion of a $140 million windfall Charles obtained in a stock deal. A judge will decide at the end of a hearing next week if any money should be reallocated.

People like Charles and Linda could avoid drawn out arguments about assets in divorce if they took the time to develop a thoughtful written prenuptial agreement. These agreements can address a range of concerns, including real property, business ownership interests and finances.

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