Post-nuptial Agreement Invalid

undefinedIn the case of Treadway v. Treadway, this is a divorce case in which it has all of the elements of a bad marital arrangement and post-nuptial agreement.  There were four issues before the appellate court in this case.  The parties had been married for nine years when they filed their current divorce action in 2015. They had two children ages 11 and 6. The husband owned an automotive repair business and the wife was employed as a nurse. Previously the parties had filed for divorce but had reconciled and signed a post-nuptial agreement.   

During the course of the trial the wife testified that the husband had been emotionally and physically abusive to her during the marriage.  The wife testified that her income was $75,000 a year. The husband claimed that his gross income was approximately $3000 a month. The tax assessor valued the marital residence at $445,000.  The husband's 2014 income tax documents indicated that his business was worth $495,000.

The trial court in its judgment awarded the wife sole custody of the two minor children. The court imputed monthly income of $5,000 to the husband and ordered him to pay child support in the amount of $894.00 per month. Further the court held that the post-nuptial agreement executed by the parties was invalid. The court awarded all of the real estate owned by the parties to the husband but required him to pay the wife $210,000 for the marital real estate. The husband appealed the decision.

On appeal there were four issues and the appellate court affirmed some and reversed some issues for the trial court to rehear. First, the husband challenged the award of sole custody to the wife.  The appellate court held based on the court record sole custody was to remain with the wife.  Second, the husband argued that the trial court erred in imputing $5,000 a month income towards him. The appellate court ruled that no child support forms were included in the record and could not determine how the trial court reached an award of child support. The appellate court reversed this issue for the trial court to conclude what was the appropriate income of the father and base child support on that number.

The third issue was the was related to the post-nuptial agreement. The appellate court ruled the wife signed the document under duress and did not have an opportunity to meet with her own separate legal counsel and therefore the post-nuptial agreement was invalid. A party seeking to enforce a post-nuptial agreement must show that the entire transaction is fair, just and equitable from the other parties’ point of view or that the agreement has been freely entered into involuntarily about the other party. In this case, the wife signed the agreement during a heated divorce.

The final issue before the court was related to the division of real estate divided between the parties it is worth noting at court that the court determined that the parties had in excess of $1,000,000 in real estate and the wife only received $210,000 cash for the real estate property the appellate court upheld this issue and said that the trial court did not abuse its discretion.

If you are seeking a divorce, contact Ingram Law LLC and let us help you at 205-335-2640. 

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