Brief Fact Summary. Josephine and Darwin entered into a marriage agreement whereby their estates would be separate. Josephine divorced and claimed that the agreement should be invalidated.
Synopsis of Rule of Law. The agreement should be evaluated from the perspective of the parties at the execution allowing the parties the freedom to contract. At the time of divorce the agreement should be disallowed only if there is a significant change in the parties’ circumstances.
Points of Law - Legal Principles in this Case for Law Students.
Such an agreement is equitable if: (1) each spouse made a fair and reasonable disclosure to the other of his or her financial status; (2) each spouse entered into the agreement voluntarily and freely; and (3) the substantive provisions of the agreement dividing the property upon divorce are fair to each spouse.
Facts. Darwin, a retired man in his seventies, placed a newspaper ad seeking a housekeeper in 1973. Josephine, a divorce in her late fifties, accepted the job on a part-time basis and continued separate full-time employment. She moved into his house and worked in this capacity for ten years, receiving room and board for her salary. In 1981 she retired from her full-time job. She testified that this developed into a full marriage-like relationship. Darwin admitted the close relationship but denied any sexual intimacies. During this relationship Josephine often proposed marriage and Darwin declined because of his age and wish to preserve his estate for children from a prior marriage. He eventually consented so long as they entered into a twenty