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Hood v. Hood
Alabama Court of Civil Appeals
72 So. 3d 666 (2011)
Frank Hood (plaintiff), a physician, and Kristi Hood (defendant), a registered nurse, lived together in Kristi’s house with Kristi’s two small children from a previous relationship. Kristi’s ex-husband threatened to take custody of their children if Kristi continued living with Frank while unmarried. Kristi and Frank got engaged but did not set a wedding date. Frank bought a new house, and Kristi, the children, and Frank moved in. Kristi leased her house to tenants. In December 1998, Frank and Kristi decided to get married in the courthouse that day. First, Frank said they had to stop by his attorney’s office to sign “the marriage papers.” Kristi was shocked and began crying when she realized that Frank wanted her to sign a prenuptial agreement. Frank’s attorney referred Kristi to a second attorney, who leafed through the agreement hurriedly because the courthouse was going to close. Frank was angry and stayed close by while the attorney spoke with Kristi, and Kristi did not understand what the lawyer was saying to her. Frank said he would not marry Kristi unless she signed. Kristi signed the agreement, waiving her right to spousal support and any rights to Frank’s premarital assets, as described in an exhibit to the agreement. The language of the agreement recited that Kristi had reviewed the document and had access to independent counsel who answered all her questions. Kristi later testified that she signed the agreement because she was afraid of losing custody of her children, had no money, and had nowhere to live, though there was no evidence that Frank would evict her. Frank later filed for divorce. The trial court found that Kristi entered willingly into the agreement and the agreement was valid. Kristi appealed, arguing that the prenuptial agreement was invalid because she signed the agreement under duress, she did not have the chance to seek the advice of independent counsel, and Frank did not provide a full disclosure of his assets.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Bryan, J.)
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