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Mehren v. Dargan

Citation. 118 Cal. App. 4th 1167 (Cal. App. 2004)
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Brief Fact Summary.

Dargan appealed a trial court judgment when he breached a post-marital contract granting communal marital property to his wife if he engaged in the use of illegal drugs.

Synopsis of Rule of Law.

If a post-marital contract frustrates statutes regarding marriage, the contract becomes void for violating public policy.


Dargan and Mehrenwere a married couple who separated due to Dargan’s use of illegal drugs. Mehren agreed to remain in the marriage if Dargan signed a statement agreeing to give Mehren communal property if he continued his use of illegal drugs. Dargan violated the contract and Mehren sought the property as agreed upon. The trial court granted judgment in favor of Mehren and Dargan appealed.


If a post-marital contract frustrates statutes regarding marriage, does the contract become void for violating public policy?


Yes. The judgment of the trial court is vacated and the post-marital contract is unenforceable. The agreement between Dargan and Mehren violates public policy because it is contradictory to the California statute that favors no-fault divorces. The agreement is also unenforceable because an agreement not to commit a crime does not constitute adequate consideration.


Any agreement that runs contrary to a statute regulating marriage violates public policy and remains void.

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