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By Anthony Hoover
In the 2015 Pennsylvania Superior Court Non-precedential Decision, De Boer v. Pott, the Court confirmed husband's right to seek attorney's fees against wife due to wife's failure to comply with the parties' prenuptial agreement[enhanced opinion available to lexis.com subscribers | Lexis Advance].
On July 10, 2003, husband and wife signed a prenuptial agreement and were married the next day. The prenuptial agreement prohibited either party from receiving temporary or permanent maintenance/alimony payments. The prenuptial agreement also provided that if either party breached the prenuptial agreement, the party breaching the agreement would be responsible for the legal fees, court costs, and travel costs of the party seeking to enforce the agreement.
The parties separated on May 2013. Although the prenuptial agreement prohibited the right to seek maintenance/alimony, wife filed a complaint for spousal support. The trial court found that per the prenuptial agreement, wife was not entitled to spousal support; however, the trial court refused to award husband attorney's fees and cost related to enforcing the agreement, which totaled approximately $25,000.
The Superior Court disagreed with the trial court's refusal to award husband attorney's fees and costs. The Superior Court reiterated the policy that prenuptial agreements are favored as enforceable contracts. The Superior Court clarified that husband was not necessarily entitled to "all" of his approximate $25,000 in attorney's fees and costs. Rather, husband was entitled to "reasonable" attorney's fees. Whether or not a prenuptial agreement provides for "reasonable" fees and costs, a court is required to apply a "reasonableness test" when awarding attorney's fees. Thus, the matter was transferred back to the trial court to determine whether husband's $25,000 in fees and costs were reasonable.
© 2015 McNees Wallace & Nurick LLC
FAMILY LAW UPDATE is presented with the understanding that the publisher does not render specific legal, accounting or other professional service to the reader. Due to the rapidly changing nature of the law, information contained in this publication may become outdated. Anyone using this material must always research original sources of authority and update this information to ensure accuracy and applicability to specific legal matters. In no event will the authors, the reviewers or the publisher be liable for any damage, whether direct, indirect or consequential, claimed to result from the use of this material.
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