Law School Case Brief
Alexander v. Alexander - 279 Ga. 116, 610 S.E.2d 48 (2005)
As a matter of public policy, antenuptial agreements made in contemplation of divorce are not absolutely void in Georgia. When a trial court in a divorce case is faced with such an agreement, the trial judge should employ basically three criteria in determining whether to enforce such an agreement in a particular case: (1) Was the agreement obtained through fraud, duress or mistake, or through misrepresentation or nondisclosure of material facts? (2) Is the agreement unconscionable? (3) Have the facts and circumstances changed since the agreement was executed, so as to make its enforcement unfair and unreasonable? Whether an agreement is enforceable in light of these criteria is a decision made in the trial court's sound discretion.
Four days before the parties were to be married, the husband presented the wife with an antenuptial agreement, saying that he would not marry her unless she signed it. The wife signed the agreement without the advice of an attorney, and the parties married. Under the agreement, each party waived alimony and rights in the property of the other spouse. After the wife filed for divorce, the husband moved to enforce the agreement. The trial court denied the motion and refused to incorporate the terms of the agreement into the final judgment and decree of divorce. The husband appealed.
Was the antenuptial agreement enforceable?
On appeal, the Court found that the agreement was void because the husband failed to disclose the fact that he owned a $40,000 investment account. The Court found that the trial court was not bound by the language of the agreement as to severability; rather, the question before the trial court was whether there was a misrepresentation or nondisclosure of a material fact, and the trial court found that there was because the wife could not intelligently enter into an antenuptial agreement without knowing the property to which she was waiving any potential interest.
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