Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts
929 N.E.2d 955 (Mass. 2010)
Kenneth Ansin (plaintiff) and Cheryl Craven-Ansin (defendant) were married. Kenneth had substantial interests in real estate, the exact value of which was speculative. The Ansins’ financial advisor valued the interests at $4,000,000 to $5,000,000. Kenneth and Cheryl signed an agreement that provided for the distribution of their marital assets, including Kenneth’s real-estate interests, if the Ansins were ever to divorce. The agreement stated that Kenneth would retain the entire marital interest in the real estate. In turn, the agreement provided that Kenneth would pay Cheryl $5,000,000, plus 30 percent of the increase in value of the marital property from the time the agreement was signed until the time of divorce. In light of the agreement, Kenneth and Cheryl agreed to waive their rights to judicial distribution of the assets. Each party was represented by counsel during the negotiations and execution of the agreement. Approximately two years after the agreement was signed, Kenneth filed a petition for divorce. The family court entered a divorce decree upholding the terms of the agreement. Cheryl appealed, arguing that the agreement was contrary to public policy, that Kenneth had undervalued his real-estate interests, and that she was coerced to sign the agreement.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Marshall, C.J.)
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