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In re Marriage of Shanks

Iowa Supreme Court
758 N.W.2d 506 (2008)



Randall Shanks (plaintiff), an attorney, and Teresa Shanks (defendant), a college graduate who had worked in Mr. Shanks’ legal office, married in April 1998. Each had children from a previous marriage. Mr. Shanks made entering into a prenuptial agreement a condition of the marriage. He drafted and presented an agreement to Teresa 10 days before their wedding, and he recommended that she obtain independent legal advice regarding its terms. The intent of the agreement was to maintain the parties’ financial positions as of the time of the marriage. This provided Mr. Shanks more financial protection given his higher wealth, but the agreement did provide certain benefits to Mrs. Shanks such as a percentage of proceeds in the sale of their house and an interest in her husband’s life insurance and law practice in the event of his death. The agreement disclosed the parties’ financial positions. It also waived Mrs. Shanks’ right to alimony. She had the agreement reviewed by a Nebraska attorney who made a few comments and recommended that Mrs. Shanks seek Iowa counsel. She did not. She signed the agreement six days before the marriage. Six years later, the couple entered divorce proceedings. Mr. Shanks filed a claim to enforce the premarital agreement, which Mrs. Shanks opposed. The trial court ruled in favor of Shanks, and the appeals court affirmed. Mr. Shanks appealed to the Iowa Supreme Court.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Hecht, J.)

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