Judicial District of Stamford-Norwalk


      Dissolution of Marriage; Antenuptial Agreements; Whether Appellate Court Properly Applied Plenary Standard of Review to Trial Court's Conclusion that Enforcement of Antenuptial Agreement Would Work an Injustice; Whether, If Proper Standard Applied, Appellate Court was Correct in Reversing Trial Court's Conclusion.  The trial court dissolved the parties' marriage and issued various financial orders, including orders directing the defendant to pay the plaintiff alimony, attorney's fees, a lump sum property settlement and portions of his assets.  Prior to the marriage, the parties signed an antenuptial agreement, which provided that each party desired to keep all of his or her property, then owned or subsequently acquired, free from any claim that the other party might acquire by reason of the marriage or dissolution thereof.  It also provided that each party would hold gainful employment.  The trial court found that although the antenuptial agreement was enforceable at the time of its execution, it was no longer enforceable due to the dramatic change in the parties' economic circumstances that was beyond their contemplation when they signed the agreement.  It stated that there was a substantial increase in the parties' assets, particularly the defendant's, which was in large part due to the plaintiff's contributions from her employment and her parenting and homemaking efforts.  Citing McHugh v. McHugh, 181 Conn. 482 (1980), it concluded that due to the plaintiff's contributions, it would be inequitable to enforce the agreement.  The defendant appealed, arguing that the trial court improperly failed to enforce the antenupital agreement.  The Appellate Court (107 Conn. App. 279) agreed with the defendant, concluding that certain financial orders were contrary to the plain meaning of the agreement.  It determined that the trial court's conclusion regarding the agreement presented a mixed question of fact and law, and it applied a plenary standard of review.  It then found that the facts in the record did not establish that there was a dramatic change in the parties' economic circumstances.  It indicated that there was no evidence to suggest that the parties' financial circumstances at the time of the dissolution were anything other than what they contemplated when they signed the agreement.  It also stated that although the defendant's assets increased, the evidence did not suggest that the increase was due to anything other than the defendant's maintaining his employment and the appreciation in the value of his assets.  Moreover, it noted that the plaintiff's assets also increased during the marriage.  In addition, it found that the changes in the parties' financial circumstances did not fall within the category of radical changes contemplated by the McHugh decision, which would make the enforcement of the agreement inequitable.  In this appeal, the Supreme Court will decide whether the Appellate Court applied the proper standard of review and, if so, whether it properly reversed the trial court's conclusion that the enforcement of the agreement would work an injustice.