In re Altayar and Muhyaddin

The Court, in favor of the Wife, ruled that a marriage contract including an agreement by Husband for payment in event of divorce or death was not a valid prenuptial agreement.

In re Altayar and Muhyaddin, 139 Wn. App. 1066 (Wash. App. Div. 2007) Court: Court of Appeals of Washington, Division 1

The Court, in favor of the Wife, ruled that a marriage contract including an agreement by Husband for payment in event of divorce or death was not a valid prenuptial agreement.
Husband and Wife were married in Jordan. The marriage contract included a payment of 19 grams of 21 karat gold by the Husband to the Wife in the event of divorce or death of the Husband. After the marriage, the Wife joined the Husband in the U.S. Four years later, the couple separated, and a year after that, the Husband filed for divorce. The trial court found that the marriage contract was not a valid prenuptial agreement and divided both community and separate assets.

The Husband appealed the trial court’s decision. On appeal, the appellate court affirmed the lower court’s ruling. The court stated a two-prong analysis for evaluating a prenuptial agreement:

  1. Is the agreement substantively fair and reasonable for the party not seeking to enforce it
  2. Was the agreement entered into voluntarily, with full knowledge of respective assets, and with opportunity to obtain independent counsel?

The court determined that 19 grams of 21 karat gold was not a fair exchange for the Wife’s right to an equitable distribution of property. The court went on to state that even if the marriage contract met the first prong, there was no evidence that there was an opportunity to obtain independent counsel before the marriage contract was signed.

History: Request for review was denied by the Supreme Court of Washington

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