Divorce decree entered between husband and wife. The decree included the (postnuptial) agreement that the parties made when they were still married.
Husband did not object to the divorce decree being finalized. 5 months later, Husband filed a motion to overturn the divorce decree. He argued that the postnuptial agreement was really unfair (unconscionable). The court would have been able to grant his request in two situations. 1) if the Court said the agreement was unconscionable. Or, 2) if the agreement was made as a result of duress, coercion, or fraud.
The court denied his motion. The court looked at the evidence from husband. Husband argued that the postnuptial agreement was entered into as the result of “considerable duress” placed upon him. Husband notes that the agreement was negotiated and executed while the parties were attending counseling and attempting to reconcile. Also, during this time, wife threatened to leave him and take their daughter back to Arkansas or Tennessee unless Husband signed the agreement. Accordingly, Husband claims that he felt pressured to sign the agreement to save his marriage and to avoid losing custody of their daughter.
The court did not believe that husband felt pressured to sign the agreement in order to save his marriage. It did not believe that he signed under pressure to avoid losing custody of the parties’ child.
The parties had stopped attending marriage counseling. The wife filed for divorce three weeks later.
Husband failed to note that he signed the fourth and final version of the postnuptial agreement, and divorce decree, two weeks after he and wife had stopped attending counseling. This was three weeks after wife had filed for divorce. At that time, Husband could not have reasonably believed that there was any possibility that the parties would reconcile.
The Appellate Court felt that the divorce decree was not completely unfair. The wife got permanent maintenance. This provision was very favorable to wife. But, husband received several valuable assets that he might not have received had the case gone to trial.
In re Marriage of Labuz, 2016 IL App (3d) 140990, May 3, 2016.
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