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Waton v. Waton - 887 So. 2d 419 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 2004)

Rule:

As to a disclosure in an antenuptial agreement, there must be a full, frank disclosure as to the value of all the marital property. That includes a good faith disclosure by the prospective spouse of the material facts relating to the character and value of his or her property. Stated otherwise, a prospective spouse is required to disclose such information regarding his assets as to provide the other spouse with a general and approximate knowledge by him or her of the prospective spouse's property. The term "approximate" is, for that purpose, held synonymous with "near," "close to," or "approaching," and while the disclosure should be full, fair, and open, it need not be minutely detailed nor exact. The test is the adequacy of the knowledge of the woman-she must have had some understanding of her rights and a general and approximate knowledge of his property and resources. The basic issue is concealment, not the absence of disclosure, and the wife may not repudiate if she is not prejudiced by lack of information.

Facts:

The parties had been married for 18 years. The wife had not worked full time in 13 years. The husband was making a very large salary and had a net worth of over $3 million. As a result, the husband was left with considerable wealth and income, while the wife had waived all rights to alimony and equitable distribution by signing the antenuptial agreement. The trial court upheld the validity of the antenuptial agreement. Wife sought review.

Issue:

Did the husband make a full and fair disclosure of his net worth and income to the wife at the time of the antenuptial agreement, allowing the wife to make a free and voluntary relinquishment of her property rights to the husband's assets?

Answer:

Yes

Conclusion:

The Florida appellate court held that the trial court could reasonably have found that the wife, who was Morrocan but spoke English, and had attorney representation, had freely entered into the agreement. Thus, it was enforceable. As to a disclosure in an antenuptial agreement, there must be a full, frank disclosure as to the value of all the marital property. That includes a good faith disclosure by the prospective spouse of the material facts relating to the character and value of his or her property. Stated otherwise, a prospective spouse is required to disclose such information regarding his assets as to provide the other spouse with a general and approximate knowledge by him or her of the prospective spouse's property. The term "approximate" is, for that purpose, held synonymous with "near," "close to," or "approaching," and while the disclosure should be full, fair, and open, it need not be minutely detailed nor exact. The test is the adequacy of the knowledge of the woman-she must have had some understanding of her rights and a general and approximate knowledge of his property and resources. The basic issue is concealment, not the absence of disclosure, and the wife may not repudiate if she is not prejudiced by lack of information. In this case, the court could reasonably conclude that the wife was provided with sufficient general and approximate knowledge of the husband's net worth and income.

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