Prenuptial Agreement Financial Disclosure – What is the difference between an agreement made in contemplation of divorce or a contract made in contemplation of marriage? The case of Lawrence v. Lawrence, S09A1370 (November 9, 2009) helps us sort this question out.
The parties began dating in July 2001. Mrs. Lawrence (wife) was an office worker and Mr. Lawrence (husband) owned the building where she worked. After a year and a half of dating, the couple moved in together and they were married two years later.
A month before the wedding, the couple executed an agreement. The agreement was drafted by the husband’s attorney and stated that each were aware of the other’s financial position and income and that Wife had the right to have her own attorney look over the agreement but she elected to sign without one.
Three years later the wife filed for divorce and the trial court upholds the agreement, the wife appeals and the Supreme court affirms.
Prenuptial Agreement Financial Disclosure – here’s what the court found.
First, the Wife argued the prenuptial agreement was void because it was not attested by at least two witnesses as required by a contract made in contemplation of marriage. Additionally, the Court has repeatedly found that agreements that report to settle alimony issues are classified under Georgia law as a contract made in contemplation of divorce (antinuptial) and not a contract made in contemplation of marriage (prenuptial). Here, the agreement at issues was clearly a contract made in contemplation of divorce because it addressed the issue of alimony and was not a attested by at least two witnesses.
The wife further argues the agreement is void because it failed to disclose the husband’s financial status. Under Georgia law to enforce a prenuptial agreement there must be mutual disclosure of full and fair disclosure of the assets of the parties prior to the execution of the agreement. Here, even through the wife never saw a financial statement or other form of documentation of the husband’s financial condition before signing the agreement, the record in this case supports the trial court determination that there was adequate pre-execution disclosure in that the parties because before they were married, So what did the court consider?
The court looked at the fact that the parties dated for a year and a half and then lived together for over two years before they got married. The Wife worked in the building the husband owned. there are several other factors which would disclosed to the wife the husband’s financial status, such as the 6,000 square foot house where they lived, the trips they have taken and the money that was spent.
the court found that since there was no evidence of the husband having any income or assets which the wife was unaware, the court found that there was a full and fair disclosure of the husband’s financial condition prior to the execution of the agreement.
Justice Hunstein and Chief Judge Williams dissented.
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