McManis Faulkner Challenges Validity of Pre-Nuptial Agreement

Divorce, Family Law

A flight attendant, who was the sole support for her four children, met a single, never married doctor on a flight. After a long-distance relationship developed into deep attachment, the doctor asked the flight attendant to move with her children to California. After several years of living in a rented house, the doctor asked the flight attendant and her children to live with him. She moved in, continuing her own work, as well as acting as a homemaker and hostess for the doctor’s growing business. When the airline she worked for ceased operations, the doctor asked her not to find another job so that she could devote herself to him, his business and the household. Finally, the doctor asked her to marry him, but only if she signed a prenuptial agreement renouncing all rights to the income and assets accumulated in their years together and severely limiting her rights to future income. Now totally dependent on the doctor, she signed the agreement. Shortly thereafter, the doctor left her and filed for divorce. The doctor tried to enforce the premarital agreement. McManis Faulkner challenged the validity of the premarital agreement. The main issue in the case was the client’s right to the large increase in the value of the doctor’s business before marriage, which represented the major economic asset. Unmarried couples typically have no rights in the assets and income of each other accumulated while they live together, even if they later marry. Only if the couple has a contract (oral or written) with each other are they entitled to share assets accumulated during their relationship. The doctor nevertheless agreed to settle, paying the client more than $1 million.