Friday, July 3, 2009

Prenuptial Agreement: Interpreted as any Other Contract

Levin v. Carlton, 2009 UT App. 170 (Utah Court of Appeals, June 25, 2009).

Trial Court found that the prenuptial agreement governed the parties' divorce. Wife appealed to the Utah Court of Appeals. She argued that the trial court's interpretation of the agreement was incorrect. The Court found that although it must look closely for abuse at the time of execution of the prenup, its means of interpreting the agreement are no different from any other contract.
Wife also appealed the trial court's narrow interpretation of Husband's earnings. Under the prenup, husband's earnings were to be community property. The prenup defined earnings as excluding income from investments. The trial court adopted the prenup' definition. The Court Affirmed.
Wife also appealed a denial of her discovery request. The trial court had found that the California law did not permit the post-separation discovery request and the prenup's had a choice of law provision choosing California law. The Court found that the prenup can even govern discovery issues during litigation and Affirmed the trial court.
Finally, Wife appealed the trial court's decision of attorney fees. The Court Affirmed the trial court both in denying her request and granting Husband's. This too was based on the prenup provision on attorney fees.

Full Decision available at


Jeff said...

So why isn't the marriage contract treated like any other contract? If you break it, you should be held liable. Instead we have divorce law which says that if you break your marriage contact.... oh well, no big deal... not only that how about if we make your spouse pay you alimony for 20 years too.

Grant said...

I think alimony is the cost of breaking the contract. In Utah, fault is a factor in the determination of alimony. That way either party can be "punished" for sabotaging the marriage.


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