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Knoxville Divorce Attorney > Blog > Prenuptial Agreements > The Grubb Case: What Is Fair and Acceptable in Tennessee Prenuptial Agreements?

The Grubb Case: What Is Fair and Acceptable in Tennessee Prenuptial Agreements?

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Although prenuptial agreements are becoming more popular, they are not for everyone.  They are only appropriate for couples who have reason to want to avoid mingling their financial assets and liabilities.  Many people who sign prenuptial agreements are partners in a business, such that dividing their share of the business in a divorce would be burdensome and unproductive for all partners in the business, not just for the couple.  Another factor that leads people to choose prenuptial agreements is student loan debt; even if both spouses are confident that the marriage will last forever might sign a prenup to protect one spouse from becoming liable for the other spouse’s student loan debt.  While prenuptial agreements are meant to be practical and fair, it can happen that the wealthier spouse pressures the less wealthy spouse into signing away his or her claim to alimony.  Even when there is no clear evidence of duress, Tennessee courts sometimes declare prenuptial agreements unenforceable on the grounds that they are unfair; this was an issue in the Grubb v. Grubb case.  If you are considering signing a prenuptial agreement, or if you have signed one but are worried that it is unfair, contact a Tennessee prenuptial agreements lawyer.

Background of the Grubb Case

Rhonda Griffis met Jim Grubb when she was 18 years old, had a GED, and worked at a dry-cleaning business; he was 40, divorced, held a college degree, and owned a chain of rent to own stores with his brother.  Jim supported Rhonda financially almost from the time they began dating.  Three years later, when they got married in 2002, Jim asked Rhonda to sign a prenuptial agreement; he said it was because his brother did not want Jim’s share of the family business to become marital property.

In fact, the first draft of the prenuptial agreement had Rhonda waiving her rights to almost all financial support from Jim in the event of a divorce.  Jim’s lawyer Chris Trew convinced him to revise the agreement to be fairer to Rhonda.  They added a clause where Rhonda was entitled to $100,000 of lump sum alimony in exchange for vacating the family home if the couple divorced.  The couple stayed married for twelve years, and Rhonda was a stay-at-home parent to their two children; Rhonda filed for divorce in 2015.

Prenuptial Agreements Do Not Wipe Equitable Distribution Off the Map

The couple’s divorce contained disputes over spousal support and the prenuptial agreement.  Jim claimed that, because Rhonda had committed adultery during the marriage, she lost her claim to any alimony, even the lump sum.  The trial court ordered him to pay her $2,000 rehabilitative alimony per month for four years.  They appealed, because Rhonda claimed she was entitled to more, but Jim claimed that she was entitled to less.  The appeals court ruled that, because of Rhonda’s youth at the time of the marriage, and because of the disparity in the parties’ wealth and earning potential, the prenuptial agreement was invalid.  It reopened the discussion about alimony.

Contact Patrick L. Looper About Prenuptial Agreements

Prenuptial agreements can resolve conflicts before they start, but only if they are fair to both parties.  Contact Knoxville prenuptial agreements lawyer Patrick L. Looper for a consultation if you need assistance with a prenuptial agreement or any other issue related to family law.

Resource:

tncourts.gov/sites/default/files/grubbvgrubbopinion.pdf

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