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Trial Court Invalidates ...
Prenuptial Agreement Where Husband Failed to Disclose Substantial Pension

In a recent divorce action, the Superior Court of Connecticut, Judicial Branch of Fairfield at Bridgeport considered a plaintiff husband’s claims that he and his wife signed a valid prenuptial agreement and, as such, any awards by the court inconsistent with the agreement’s terms would be improper.

In this case, the husband and defendant wife lived in Trumbull, Connecticut, and entered into a premarital agreement (hereinafter agreement) the day before their wedding. Whether the wife had counsel at the time the agreement was signed was questionable: the husband’s attorney testified that though she recalled the presence of another attorney, she did not know if the wife had hired him. Approximately four years after the agreement was executed, the husband received a lump sum pension from his employer. Though he testified at the dissolution proceedings that the value was at least $100,000, this was a gross undervaluation: rather, the lump sum payment was nearly $700,000.

The trial court found the agreement unenforceable for multiple reasons, with the husband’s failure to fully disclose his assets at the forefront. The husband’s failure to reveal the actual value of his pension was a material omission, and because the wife did not have independent knowledge of those assets, the husband violated his duty to disclose. As the trial court stated, “For this reason alone the premarital agreement fails.” The agreement also required each party to perform due diligence in finding out the other party’s assets, a burden that the court will not impose. The duty is to disclose, not to discover. Finally, the court found problematic the vague evidence regarding whether the wife had independent counsel at the time the agreement was signed. Therefore, the court declared the agreement unenforceable and, within its authority, made financial awards pursuant to the dissolution of the marriage.

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When dividing property, the Connecticut court considers the value of the homemaker's services. In brief marriages, the court will try to divide the property so that the parties are in the same financial condition as they were before the marriage. In longer marriages, the court will try to divide the property 50-50. Ultimately, the division of property may vary widely from case to case depending on the court's analysis of a number of factors.
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