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Button v. Button

Wisconsin Supreme Court
388 N.W.2d 546 (1986)


Facts

Ms. Button (plaintiff) and Mr. Button (defendant) were married in September 1969, when she was 50 years old and he was 61. Mrs. Button brought to the marriage approximately $3,000 in personal property and a life insurance policy in her ex-husband’s name worth $12,000, while Mr. Button had an upholstery business, a stock portfolio, and real estate. The couple signed a prenuptial agreement in August 1969, written by Mr. Button’s attorney. Although there were no financial disclosures to Ms. Button at that time, she was generally aware of Mr. Button’s assets. When her ex-husband died, Ms. Button gave the life insurance proceeds to her daughter. Mr. Button sold his business in June 1974, and the parties then signed a postnuptial agreement written by Mr. Button’s attorney that superseded the 1969 agreement. At that time, Mr. Button’s assets were approximately $110,000, and Ms. Button’s assets were relatively unchanged. Ms. Button again did not receive financial disclosures, but was generally aware of Mr. Button’s property. The 1974 agreement provided that, upon divorce, each party would receive the property he or she acquired before or separately during the marriage, plus half of all property acquired jointly during the marriage. Ms. Button filed for divorce in 1983. The trial court found that Ms. Button was aware of the meaning of the postnuptial agreement and was bound by its terms, especially because she felt free to give away the life insurance proceeds to her daughter. The trial court awarded Ms. Button assets valued at $7,882.10 and Mr. Button assets valued at $255,103.99. Ms. Button appealed.

Rule of Law

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Issue

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Holding and Reasoning (Abrahamson, J.)

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  • A "yes" or "no" answer to the question framed in the issue section;
  • A summary of the majority or plurality opinion, using the CREAC method; and
  • The procedural disposition (e.g. reversed and remanded, affirmed, etc.).

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