$7 Million Adultery Award In Postnuptial Upheld
Many of the questions we get regarding prenuptial and postnuptial agreements are whether the provisions that are included in them are actually enforceable. Repeatedly, courts have ruled that properly and professionally crafted agreements made between consenting parties and with appropriate legal representation are, in fact, enforceable. In one Maryland case, the courts ruled on a significant cash award in a postnuptial agreement. The case is interesting on several levels.
The decision upheld a $7 million award to Anna Niceta, the ex-wife of Thomas Lloyd. The postnuptial agreement was reached after Lloyd had strayed in his marriage. Anna had agreed to take Lloyd back following his indiscretion based on their postnuptial terms of a $7 million lump sum award should another incident occur. The terms were pretty specific, calling for the multi-million dollar award should he “engage in outside the marriage sexual intercourse or romantic kissing, hugging, fondling, embracing, emailing, or sexting.” When Lloyd again strayed, the court awarded the payment.
Lloyd appealed the decision, saying the award was “punitive.” The appellate court ruled the award was justified based on several factors.
The court said Lloyd was not coerced into the agreement, and he was properly represented. It further ruled that Niceta provided “consideration” in the agreement by taking Lloyd back and working on their marriage. In addition, the court ruled that the $7 million award was not excessive or punitive based on Lloyd’s anticipated $12 million inheritance from his ill father. While courts frequently rule against the enforcement of contract covenants and provisions that they may feel are punitive, they determined that was not the case in this postnup agreement. In fact, its ruling indicated that the cash award could have served to save the marriage, which it appeared to look favorably upon.
In short, the postnuptial agreement was signed in what the court saw as an effort to restore the marriage and was done willingly by both parties. When Lloyd violated the agreement, it provided for the $7 million lump sum payment, which was upheld.
The point is that, like any legal agreement, a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement may be challenged in the courts. That is why it is critical you are represented by an experienced attorney competent in such agreements. It also demonstrates that, as events throughout a marriage change, it is possible to alter a prenuptial, based on mutual agreement.
Should you have questions about creating a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement to help protect your interests, we invite you to contact us.
Remember, prenuptial agreements are no longer just for the wealthy or famous. They are a practical, sensible approach to marriage. We are here to provide assistance.
If you have questions about a prenup agreement or a postnup agreement or require legal assistance in other areas of Family Law you may always contact Damien McKinney of The McKinney Law Group to discuss your case further. He can be reached by phone at 813-428-3400 or by e-mail at [email protected].
We now offer virtual prenuptial agreements. Contact us to inquire further about our virtual prenup option.