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In Your Court: An unconscionable marital settlement agreement can be vacated after divorce

Published: Friday, Dec. 20, 2013 9:49 a.m. CDT • Updated: Friday, Dec. 20, 2013 9:54 a.m. CDT

The Second District Court of Appeals recently upheld that a marital settlement agreement can be vacated after the court enters a judgment for dissolution of marriage if the marital settlement agreement is unconscionable.

Simplified case scenario for the reader:

Husband and Wife were married for eight years with two children when Husband filed for divorce. Husband was represented by counsel; Wife represented herself pro se. Soon thereafter, the parties testified to the following at a court hearing:

Husband testified that the parties executed a joint parenting agreement and a marital settlement agreement, and said marital settlement agreement 1. detailed their large marital assets 2. provided Wife with more than 50 percent of their marital assets and 3. provided that Husband pay $2,000 for child support, which was 28 percent of his statutory net income and in accordance with Illinois law. 

Wife testified that 1. she understood the terms of the marital settlement agreement and entered into it freely 2. she waived maintenance and 3. she could adequately support herself. 

The Trial Court entered a judgment for dissolution of marriage and incorporated the marital settlement agreement and the joint parenting agreement therein.

Less than two years later, Wife filed a petition to vacate the judgment, alleging the marital settlement agreement was unconscionable because, inter alia, the Husband fraudulently concealed much of his assets, and it did not provide child support in accordance with Illinois law.

At the hearing on the Wife’s petition, it was revealed that 1. the marital settlement agreement did not reveal any values regarding the marital assets 2. Husband never disclosed his income to his wife or the court 3. Husband’s total net worth was $16.1 million and 4. Wife received approximately $1 million from the division of the marital property in accordance with the marital settlement agreement.

The Trial Court then vacated the marital settlement agreement as being unconscionable due to the inequitable division of marital assets; Husband’s failure to disclose his assets to Wife and to the court; and because it failed to meet the statutory child support guidelines. Upon appeal, the Appellate Court concurred with the Trial Court’s ruling. 

The case is in re: Marriage of Arjmand, 2013 IL.App.2d 120639.

• Anthony Scifo is a resident of Kane County and an associate attorney with Shaw, Jacobs, Goostree and Associates P.C. in St. Charles, where he concentrates in divorce and family law, personal injury and wrongful death. His goal with this occasional column is to help educate the public regarding the court system and the law. Contact him with general legal questions at editorial@kcchronicle.com.

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