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The Connecticut Supreme Court holds that the terms of a postnuptial agreement are fair and equitable at the time of execution if the agreement is made voluntarily, and without any undue influence, fraud, coercion, duress or similar defect. Moreover, each spouse must be given full, fair and reasonable disclosure of the amount, character and value of property, both jointly and separately held, and all of the financial obligations and income of the other spouse. This mandatory disclosure requirement is a result of the deeply personal marital relationship.
Plaintiff wife sought dissolution of the parties' marriage and ancillary relief. The defendant husband sought enforcement of the parties' postnuptial agreement (PNA). It was noted that after execution thereof, the PNA was modified on multiple occasions. The PNA provided, inter alia, that the wife would receive a cash settlement rather than alimony, and that she waived any interest in the husband's car wash business. The trial court found that the PNA was not fair and equitable, and that enforcement would work an injustice. Accordingly, it declined to enforce it. Rather, it ordered a large lump sum payment of alimony to the wife. Upon re-argument, the trial court maintained its decision not to enforce the PNA. The husband sought review.
Under the circumstances, was the parties’ postnuptial agreement enforceable?
On appeal, the court noted the standard for review of a PNA was whether the terms thereof were fair and equitable at the time of execution, and whether the PNA was unconscionable at the time of parties' dissolution. The court agreed that the PNA was not enforceable in the circumstances, based on the dramatic change in the parties' economic circumstances since the execution thereof. It noted that the trial court's finding that enforcement would work an injustice was tantamount to a finding of unconscionability.