Today, the Alabama Court of Civil Appeals released its decision in Treadway v. Treadway, an appeal of a divorce judgment. Among other issues, the Court discussed the validity of the parties’ postnuptial agreement. At trial, the Wife argued that the agreement was invalid on the grounds of coercion. The postnuptial agreement was signed in the midst of trial in the parties’ previous divorce action, during which they reconciled. She testified that prior to signing the agreement, the Husband isolated her from her family, threatened she would be homeless, and he would leave with their son if she did not comply. She testified that the Husband had been physically abusive towards her and that she often felt threatened by him. She testified that she had no input in the contents of the agreement and was not afforded the opportunity to speak to the drafting attorney, nor seek her own independent counsel. The Husband testified that the parties had mutually discussed a post-nuptial agreement and that the Wife was not under duress at the time she signed the agreement. As part of its judgment, the trial court found that the post-nuptial agreement was invalid. The Husband appealed.
The Court cited the standard articulated in Barnhill v. Barnhill, 386 So. 2d 749 (Ala. Civ. App. 1980) that the husband has the burden of demonstrating that the entire agreement was fair, just, and equitable from the wife’s point of view, or that the agreement had been freely and voluntarily entered into by the wife, with competent independent advice and with full knowledge of her interest in the estate and its approximate value. Based on the record, the Court found that the Husband failed to meet the burden of showing that the wife voluntarily and freely entered into the postnuptial agreement. Therefore, the appellate court affirmed the trial court’s judgment regarding the invalidity of the parties’ postnuptial agreement.
Call Crawford Gentle Law, P.C. for a consultation regarding preparation of your prenuptial or postnuptial agreement, or if you need independent counsel to review an agreement presented to you by your spouse.