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Family — pre-nuptual agreements

Wisconsin Court of Appeals


Family — pre-nuptual agreements

This case concerns the enforceability of a marital property agreement executed by John Zernia and Sharon Zernia prior to their marriage in 1989. In the parties’ subsequent divorce action, the circuit court concluded that the agreement was enforceable, but only with respect to its retirement account provisions, which provided that the parties’ respective retirement accounts would remain solely-owned by each party throughout the marriage and upon divorce. The circuit court then considered the value of each party’s retirement accounts when awarding spousal maintenance. John appeals the court’s judgment, arguing that the agreement is enforceable in its entirety, that the court improperly considered the value of John’s retirement account when awarding maintenance, and that the court erred in awarding permanent maintenance. Sharon cross-appeals, arguing that the entire agreement is unenforceable. For the reasons discussed, we conclude that the court erred in its determination that the agreement was enforceable in any respect, including with respect to the retirement account provisions. Therefore, we reverse on the issue of the agreement’s enforceability raised in the appeal and cross-appeal, and remand this case to the circuit court to reconsider the property division and, if necessary, the award of spousal maintenance, without regard to the marital property agreement. Not recommended for publication in the official reports.

2012AP838 In re the marriage of: Zernia v. Zernia

Dist IV, La Crosse County, Bjerke, J., Kloppenburg, J.

Attorneys: For Appellant: Kircher, Mary Anne, La Crosse; For Respondent: Horvath, Thomas L., La Crosse; Sleik, Thomas S., La Crosse

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