Earlier this month the Pennsylvania Superior Court upheld a trial court’s decision to enforce a post-nuptial agreement. The agreement was between two spouses who had been married for thirteen years and contemplated divorce. It outlined the parties’ economic rights and included a provision that the wife would not file for child support.
After the agreement was signed, the wife violated it by filing for child support. Thereafter the husband filed a motion to enforce the post-nuptial agreement, alleging that the wife breached the agreement and filing for contempt and attorney fees.
The wife filed a counterclaim to set aside the agreement, but the trial court denied her counterclaim. On appeal, the Superior Court affirmed.
The Superior Court explained that absent fraud, misrepresentation or duress, spouses should be held to the terms of their agreements. Regarding pre-nuptial agreements, spouses can waive their rights to economic disclosure if they do so voluntarily and in writing. The Court reasoned that they could also do so for post-nuptial agreements.
The Court also rejected the wife’s claims of duress and legal misconduct. The wife claimed that the husband had “badgered” her and subjected her to one-and-a-half hours of “pressure and negotiations” on the day she signed the post-nup. The Court held that these acts did not rise to the requisite level of coercion.
As for the wife’s claim of legal misconduct, the Court held that she was represented by her own attorney and, in fact, she contacted her attorney. This undermined her allegation that the husband, his father, and his attorney caused her to sign the post-nup without first consulting with her attorney.
Post-nups and pre-nups are a useful tool for spouses who want to decide their property rights before actually getting divorced. If you are contemplating a post-nuptial or pre-nuptial agreement with your spouse, please contact the family law attorneys at Petrelli Previtera Schimmel.