DEBORAH BEDRICK v. BRUCE L. BEDRICK, SC 18568

Judicial District of Middlesex

 

      Dissolution of Marriage; Postnuptial Agreements; Whether the Trial Court Properly Declined to Enforce the Parties' Postnuptial Agreement.  In 2007, the plaintiff initiated this action, seeking a dissolution of the parties' marriage.  At trial, the defendant sought to enforce the parties' 1977 postnuptial agreement.  While acknowledging that the Connecticut appellate courts have not directly addressed the enforceability of postnuptial agreements, the trial court noted that, historically, postnuptial agreements were invalid at common law.  It declined to apply Connecticut's common law governing prenuptial agreements, reasoning that, unlike a prenuptial agreement, a postnuptial agreement is inherently coercive in that one spouse typically enters into it in order to preserve the marriage, while the other is primarily motivated by financial concerns.  Nevertheless, it determined that the parties' postnuptial agreement was unenforceable even under the law pertaining to prenuptial agreements because it lacked adequate consideration.  It explained that, because past consideration cannot support the imposition of a new obligation, a marriage cannot itself constitute sufficient consideration to support a postnuptial agreement, which, by definition, is made after the parties to the agreement are married.  Moreover, the court emphasized that the plaintiff did not knowingly waive her marital rights because she never received a sworn financial affidavit from the defendant and because she did not retain an attorney to review the agreement.  It also opined that the agreement did not represent a fair and equitable distribution of the parties' assets because the last modification of the agreement in 1989 preceded the birth of the parties' child and the initial expansion and subsequent deterioration of their businesses.  Based upon the foregoing, the court declined to enforce the parties' postnuptial agreement.  In this appeal, the Supreme Court will determine whether the trial court's decision was proper.