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Moore v. Moore

383 S.W.3d 190 (2012)

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Moore v. Moore

Texas Court of Appeals

383 S.W.3d 190 (2012)

Facts

Gary Moore (plaintiff) and Caroline Moore (defendant) were married. Before the wedding, Gary asked Caroline to sign a premarital agreement. Gary claimed to be in substantial debt and stated he wanted to protect Caroline from loans, liens, and lawsuits. In fact, Gary was trying to shield his valuable assets from a future community-property assessment. Caroline said she was open to signing an agreement. Gary was represented by his longtime friend Marty Barenblat, who told Gary that Caroline needed to get her own counsel. Caroline suggested a few family lawyers, but Gary told Caroline he would only pay for Mickey Hunt, the attorney who worked next door to Barenblat. Nine days before the wedding, Caroline met with Hunt for the first time to go over the agreement. Hunt identified gaps in the agreement about the value of Gary’s assets and told Caroline that without this information, she would not know what rights she was giving up. Hunt said he would work with Barenblat to make these corrections. Barenblat added in a schedule of Gary’s assets, but Barenblat deleted any reference to the value of these assets. Although Gary received Barenblat’s edited copy of the agreement several days before the wedding, he pretended he only received it a few hours before the wedding. Caroline did not understand portions of the agreement, but she could not reach Hunt. Gary falsely told Caroline that Hunt had reviewed the new version and said it was okay for Caroline to sign. Caroline executed the agreement and married Gary. Caroline later discovered that Hunt had never received or approved the final version that she signed. Three years later, Gary filed for divorce, and Caroline moved to invalidate the agreement. The trial court found that the agreement was unenforceable because Caroline did not sign it voluntarily. The trial court awarded Caroline $1,399,123 as her share of the community property. Gary appealed, arguing there was no evidence to suggest that the agreement was involuntarily signed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (O’Neill, J.)

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