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In re Marriage of Dajani

In re Marriage of Dajani, 204 Cal. App. 3d 1387; 251 Cal. Rptr. 871 (1988) Court: Court of Appeal of California, 4th Appellate District, Division 3

The court, in favor of the Husband, found the dowry provision of a foreign marriage contract void and against public policy when the beneficiary of the provision initiated divorce.

Husband and Wife were married by proxy in Jordan in 1982. The marriage contract specified that a token amount of dowry was to be paid upon marriage with the balance to be paid upon the Husband’s death or the dissolution of the marriage. The dowry was 5000 Jordanian dinars including cash or furniture. At the time of marriage, the Wife received 1 dinar as a token. In 1985, Wife initiated divorce proceedings and sought enforcement of the dowry agreement to receive the rest of her dowry. The Husband argued that the Wife forfeited her right to the dowry by initiating the divorce. The trial court sided with the Husband and refused to enforce the agreement.

The Wife appealed the trial court’s decision. On appeal, the appellate court affirmed the lower court and refused to enforce a foreign dowry agreement which gives financial benefit to the person who initiates the divorce. The court stated that enforcing the agreement would encourage “profiteering by divorce,” and prenuptial agreements to encourage divorce were against public policy.

Note: This ruling was criticized in In re Marriage of Bellio, 105 Cal.App.4th 630 at 635 saying a dowry of 5000 Jordanian dinars ($1,700) wasn’t enough to seriously jeopardize a marriage by inducing someone to initiate divorce.

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