Burtoff v. Burtoff
District of Columbia Court of Appeals
418A.2d 1085 (1980)
Samuel Burtoff (defendant) and Wilma Burtoff (plaintiff) were married for less than a year. Both had been previously married. Samuel had assets worth over one million dollars, and he had children from a previous marriage. Wilma was a nurse with an annual salary of approximately $8,000. To prevent a property battle that replicated his first divorce, Samuel asked Wilma to sign a premarital agreement. The agreement ensured Samuel’s separate property would pass to his children. In addition, the agreement waived Wilma’s right to alimony or support upon a future divorce in exchange for a lump-sum payment calculated based on the number of years the Burtoffs were married. Ten thousand dollars was to be paid if the Burtoffs were married for less than one year. The sums roughly matched Wilma’s annual salary in case she decided to stop working. Attached to the agreement was a document identifying the Burtoffs’ respective assets and salaries. After speaking with a lawyer, Wilma signed the agreement. Eight days before their first anniversary, Samuel sent Wilma a letter that they were separating, and her personal items were moved to an apartment Samuel had rented for her. Wilma filed suit for pendente lite for temporary financial spousal support while the Burtoffs’ divorce was pending. The trial court upheld the agreement, but it stated that Wilma might be entitled to additional pendente lite support to prevent her from becoming a public charge.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Gallagher, J.)
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