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Dallas Court of Appeals Affirms Trial Court's Judgment Voiding Premarital Agreement

On July 3, 2012, the Dallas Court of Appeals issued its opinion in the Moore v. Moore case affirming the trial court’s finding that the premarital agreement at issue was unenforceable and upholding the valuation of the seven business entities owned by the community estate. Michelle May O’Neil successfully represented the Wife and appellee.

This opinion is one of the few Texas cases to void a premarital agreement. In reaching its decision, the Dallas Court of Appeals noted the suspicious circumstances surrounding the procurement of Wife’s signature. Specifically, Husband misrepresented his financial condition prior to marriage and made it effectively impossible for Wife’s lawyer to review the final draft by misrepresenting to Wife that he did not have the agreement until a mere five hours before their Martha’s Vineyard wedding, then misrepresented to Wife that the version he presented to her had been approved by her attorney. Although Wife signed the agreement based on Husband’s assurances and would not have done so but for such assurances.

Regarding the premarital agreement, the Court of Appeals also noted that recitations in the agreement providing that Wife executed it voluntarily could not preclude her from establishing involuntary execution.

The Dallas Court of Appeals also upheld the trial court’s division of the community estate, particularly the community businesses. The Opinion notes that Husband failed to make the required objections at trial that were necessary to preserve his complaints that Wife’s valuation expert should have used additional or different data, so this argument was waived. Also, the trial court was within its discretion to blend all the evidence presented at trial and assign a value for the businesses within the range of evidence.

Husband’s arguments that the trial court erred by failing to make particularized finding as to the value of the community assets and by not conditioning the award of appellate attorney’s fees on the success of the appeal also failed.