Barber v. Barber

38 So.3d 1046

 

RULE:

La. Civ. Code Ann. art. 2034 directs the court to consider the totality of the parties' intentions before annulling the agreement when only a portion of it is null. Accordingly, like other questions of contract interpretation, whether an agreement is severable is controlled generally by the intent of the parties as expressed by the contract terms and/or language. 

FACTS:

Plaintiff husband sought a divorce from defendant wife. The wife filed a rule for interim periodic spousal support and rental assessment. The husband asserted the existence of a matrimonial agreement, which the wife argued was signed under duress. The wife was suffering from multiple sclerosis and claimed that besides the agreement being signed under duress, was also signed through misrepresentation and fraud. The trial court held that, except for a waiver of interim spousal support, the agreement was valid. The husband appealed.

 

ISSUE:

Whether the trial court erred in ruling that the entire paragraph regarding spousal support should be striken?

ANSWER:

Yes

CONCLUSION:

The court held that although the waiver of interim spousal support was against public policy and must be stricken from the agreement, the entire paragraph should not have been stricken. The agreement regarding interim spousal support and final spousal support were in the same sentence, but they were two distinct provisions with different interests and different requirements. Additionally, by the plain language of the agreement, the wife waived her right to reimbursement of contribution to the estate of the husband. Judgment reversed in part.

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