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Allard v. Allard

Court of Appeals of Michigan

January 31, 2017

EARL H. ALLARD, JR., Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
CHRISTINE A. ALLARD, Defendant-Appellant.

         Wayne Circuit Court Family Division LC No. 10-110358-DM.

          Before: M.J. Kelly, P.J., and Wilder and Fort Hood, JJ.

          ON REMAND

          Wilder, J.

         This matter returns to us on remand from our Supreme Court. Allard v Allard, 499 Mich. 932 (2016) (Allard II). We have been instructed to consider two issues on remand: "(1) whether parties may waive the trial court's discretion under MCL 552.23(1) and MCL 552.401 through an antenuptial agreement, " and "(2) if so, whether the parties validly waived MCL 552.23(1) and MCL 552.401 in this case." Id. We conclude that parties cannot, by antenuptial agreement, deprive a trial court of its equitable discretion under MCL 552.23(1) and MCL 552.401. Hence, we vacate in part and remand for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.

         I. FACTUAL BACKGROUND

         The pertinent facts on remand remain nearly identical to those set forth in our prior opinion:

The parties signed an antenuptial agreement on September 9, 1993, two days before their wedding on September 11, 1993. This case primarily deals with the validity and enforcement of that antenuptial agreement.
* * *
The pertinent sections of the signed antenuptial agreement provide as follows:
4. Each party shall during his or her lifetime keep and retain sole ownership, control, and enjoyment of all real, personal, intangible, or mixed property now owned, free and clear of any claim by the other party. However, provided that nothing herein contained shall be construed to prohibit the parties from at any time creating interests in real estate as tenants by the entireties or in personal property as joint tenants with rights of survivorship and to the extent that said interest is created, it shall, in the event of divorce, be divided equally between the parties. At the death of the first of the parties hereto, any property held by the parties as such tenants by the entireties or joint tenants with rights of survivorship shall pass to the surviving party.
5. In the event that the marriage . . . terminate[s] as a result of divorce, then, in full satisfaction, settlement, and discharge of any and all rights or claims of alimony, support, property division, or other rights or claims of any kind, nature, or description incident to marriage and divorce (including any right to payment of legal fees incident to a divorce), under the present or future statutes and laws of common law of the state of Michigan or any other jurisdiction (all of which are hereby waived and released), the parties agree that all property acquired after the marriage between the parties shall be divided between the parties with each party receiving 50 percent of the said property. However, notwithstanding the above, the following property acquired after the marriage will remain the sole and separate property of the party acquiring the property and/or named on the property:
a. As provided in paragraphs Two and Three of this antenuptial agreement, any increase in the value of any property, rents, profits, or dividends arising from property previously owned by either party shall remain the sole and separate property of that party.
b. Any property acquired in either party's individual capacity or name during the marriage, including any contributions to retirement plans (including but not limited to IRAs, 401(k) plans, SEP IRAs, IRA rollovers, and pension plans), shall remain the sole and separate property of the party named on the account or the party who acquired the property in his or her individual capacity or name.
* * *
8. Each party shall, without compensation, join as grantor in any and all conveyances of property made by the other party or by his or her heirs, devises, or personal representatives, thereby relinquishing all claim to the property so conveyed, including without limitation any dower or homestead rights, and each party shall further, upon the other's request, take any and all steps and execute, acknowledge, and deliver to the other party any and all further instruments necessary or expedient to effectuate the purpose and intent of this agreement.
* * *
10. Each party acknowledges that the other party has advised him or her of the other party's means, resources, income, and the nature and extent of the other party's properties and holdings (including, but not limited to, the financial information set forth in exhibit A attached hereto and incorporated herein by reference) and that there is a likelihood for substantial appreciation of those assets subsequent to the marriage of the parties.
* * *
The parties were married on September 11, 1993. During the course of the marriage, the parties held a joint checking account with Private Bank, which was closed in November 2010. There were no other jointly held accounts. Defendant worked at two different advertising agencies during the first several years of the marriage. At the end of her employment, she earned approximately $30, 000 per year. In 1999, after she became pregnant with the couple's second child, defendant stopped working and did not seek further employment.
Plaintiff received numerous cash gifts from his parents during the marriage, often totaling $20, 000 per year. Plaintiff also testified to having received loans from his father during the course of the marriage, and claims that he used those funds to acquire some of the real estate he purchased during the marriage. Plaintiff also formed six limited ...

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