Jeanne and Michael were planning their nuptials. There was only one problem. Jeanne had a child (not Michael’s) that was a ward of the State. Jeanne and Michael were worried that once they were married the State might try to go after Michael’s assets for reimbursement of costs for the child.
Michael and Jeanne paid a visit to Jeanne’s brother, who happened to be a lawyer. He was charges with two tasks: draft a document that protects Michael’s assets from any collections efforts by the State, but make sure it does not prevent Jeanne from sharing in his wealth as his spouse. Guess what? It can’t be done.
Two documents were prepared and then signed by Jeanne and Michael. The first document was called a antenuptial agreement. It looked, smelled, and read like a pre-marital agreement. It provided that all of Michael’s property would remain his separate property. The second document was called an acknowledgment. It said that the antenuptial agreement would not be effective as between Jeanne and Michael if they ever had a dispute with each other. Both documents were prepared at the same time, and both documents were signed by Jeanne and Michael at the same time.
Jeanne and Michael then got married, split-up, and filed for divorce. Of course Michael wanted the antenuptial agreement enforced, so that he would not have to share any of his property with Jeanne. Sorry Michael, you lose.
Substantial evidence supports the trial court’s finding that the acknowledgment is evidence of the lack of mutual intent by Jeanne and Michael to enter into the antenuptial agreement. The language of the acknowledgment, standing alone, is sufficient to support the trial court’s finding: “We, [Jeanne and Michael], acknowledge that the Antenuptial Agreement dated October 15, 2002 will not be effective between the two of us should a dispute arise.” (Italics added.) The foregoing supports the trial court’s finding that the express intent of Jeanne and Michael in signing the acknowledgment was to ineffectuate the antenuptial agreement. This finding is further supported by the testimony of Jeanne and her brother that Michael did not want a “real” antenuptial agreement, but instead wanted to be able to shield his assets and earnings from any claim relating to Jeanne’s child’s wardship. Jeanne and Michael’s joint acquisition of real property during their marriage, which the antenuptial agreement anticipated the parties would not do, further supports the trial court’s finding that the antenuptial agreement was null and void from the time it was executed.
The bottom line here is that when you get married, either you are going to share with your spouse, or you are not. There is no middle ground. This case also reaffirms the old adage that “you take em like you find em.” If Michael did not want to run the risk of paying for Jeanne’s liabilities, than he should not have married her.
Please click here to read the unpublished Macaluso opinion.
Please be sure to visit www.hardinglaw.com, the website for the law firm of Harding & Associates, for more information on California family law.
#divorce #californiadivorce #alamedacountydivorce #contracostacountydivorce #pleasantondivorce #walnutcreekdivorce #childcustody #childvisitation #childsupport #alimony #spousalsupport #communityproperty