Marriage of Burkle
Court of Appeal of California
139 Cal. App. 4th 712 (2006)
Ronald Burkle (defendant) and Janet Burkle (plaintiff) were married in 1974. In June 1997, Janet hired an attorney and filed for divorce. In August 1997, Ronald and Janet attempted reconciliation and entered into a post-marital agreement that was intended to settle financial issues between them should reconciliation be unsuccessful. The agreement delineated the community and separate property that the couple owned, as well as various provisions related to management of the property and compensation. Generally, Ronald would manage their community property freely, as if it were his separate property. Janet was to be provided with financial support or compensation and a home that would allow her to maintain her preferred lifestyle. The agreement specified that Janet wanted financial security and the maintenance of her current lifestyle and that Ronald wanted to be able to freely engage in investment opportunities. Ronald and Janet both discussed this agreement with their attorneys. Ronald and Janet acknowledged that neither of them obtained an unfair advantage as a result of this agreement. Further, Ronald and Janet waived their fiduciary duties to one another in the agreement. Ronald and Janet were unable to successfully reconcile their marriage. In June 2003, Janet filed for divorce and claimed that the post-marital agreement was invalid and unenforceable. According to Janet, a presumption of undue influence arose because Ronald obtained an advantage from the agreement, and thus, Ronald had the burden to show that there was no undue influence. The trial court disagreed and held that the agreement was valid and enforceable. Janet appealed.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Boland, J.)
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