Palm Beach Couple's Prenup Settlement Serves as Lesson

The South Florida divorce case of 87-year-old Martin Zelman, an affluent businessman suffering from dementia, and his wife, Lois, has finally reached a settlement. Mr. Zelman’s attorneys, along with his children from a previous marriage, have agreed to pay Zelman’s wife of 15 years $9.75 million in order for her to move forward without her husband who does not even recognize her anymore.

Mrs. Zelman claims she never wanted to divorce Martin, even though she was ordered out of their Palm Beach condo in 2014 after his children believed she was abusing him. Although she has stated that she still loves her husband, his debilitating dementia has changed their relationship significantly.

The settlement — just like a divorce settlement — details the division of assets including artwork, furniture, jewelry, and homes in Palm Beach and New York.

In July 2015, Martin’s attorney attempted to get his client divorced from Lois, but failed because a Palm Beach County Circuit ruled that Martin wasn’t capable of understanding what he was seeking. However, another judge ruled that Martin had the right to sue and be sued as part of a guardianship case. That decision allowed Martin to seek a divorce.

Under the couple’s prenuptial agreement, Lois would not see one cent from Martin’s estimated $50 million fortune if they divorced, but the stipulation was that Martin had to be the one filing for divorce. If it was done by a guardian, Lois would get the money. After multiple legal battles, the parties agreed to the nearly $10 million payout so the matter would be put to rest.

The children, who both live in New York state, will remain guardians of their father as part of the agreement.

This case highlights the need for couples —, especially older ones — to make sure prenuptial agreements and other legal documents take into consideration all types of scenarios that would affect their marriage. Couples have to consider not only what happens in the event one dies, but what will happen if one becomes incapacitated, disabled, or disassociated.

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If you or someone you know is seeking legal guidance and representation from an experienced divorce and prenuptial attorney in South Florida, please contact Klein Law Group at (561) 220-6659 or fill out the contact form on our website at We offer a free 30-minute consultation to discuss your individual case in family law, bankruptcy, and real estate. Our offices are located in Boca Raton, West Palm Beach, and Fort Lauderdale, Florida.