Beware of power of prenuptial agreements, warns Dr. Prenup

Los Angeles family law specialist Peter M. Walzer looks at the case of Hill v. Dittmer to demonstrate how prenups hold up against all types of claims
(PR NewsChannel) / February 2, 2012 / LOS ANGELES 

Walzer & Melcher LLPPrenuptial agreements play a huge role in divorce proceedings, and family law and divorce lawyer Peter M. Walzer of Walzer & Melcher, LLP has seen many decisions come as a result of the binding agreement.  In the 2012 Hill v. Dittmer case, courts upheld a prenup against claims of a spouse allegedly withholding his true worth and of not knowing what agreement one party was signing on the couple’s wedding day.

When Thomas Dittmer and Sandra Hill married, they both brought a considerable amount of wealth to the table.  Hoping to avoid protracted litigation in the event of a break-up, Dittmer insisted that the couple enter into a premarital agreement. Hill had her attorney draft the document with input from Dittmer’s attorneys, and the document was signed by both individuals on the day of the wedding, just before the ceremony began.

Eight years later, Dittmer and Hill ended their marriage and divorce proceedings began. However, Hill challenged the validity of the prenuptial agreement, claiming that Dittmer had lied about his wealth when they entered the agreement. When the Santa Barbara court found the agreement was valid in 2008, Hill appealed.

As proceedings continued, Hill argued the agreement wasn’t valid because she did not have adequate time to review the agreement before the weeding. The court record shows the couple discussed the agreement months before their wedding day, and both parties had attorneys that reviewed the documents.

According to Walzer, the courts also looked at the financial sophistical of both parties. Dittmer is the founder of a major independent commodities training company, while Hill’s impressive resume included serving as the editor of Mademoiselle and Bridges magazines and as a writer for USA Today and NBC News. She even owned her own television production company, ran a division of RFJ Nabisco and was a published author.  In addition, though not part of the court record, she is the 31st woman to climb Mount Everest.

“Both individuals were professionals with business experience, and the courts ruled that they knew they were entering a binding agreement,” says Los Angeles divorce attorney Walzer. “The court didn’t believe Hill’s argument that she was too busy with wedding preparation to read or understand the document.”

Dittmer walked away as the winner in this divorce proceeding, but Walzer says the real story is the power of the prenup. As hard as she tried, Hill was unable to get out of the binding agreement she and her former husband agreed to on their wedding day. The Los Angeles divorce attorney, who did not work on the Hill v. Dittmer case, warns couples to thoroughly review the prenuptial agreement prior to signing it will be treated like any other legally binding document.

About Peter M. Walzer: Peter M. Walzer is a certified family law specialist who is a partner at Walzer & Melcher, LLP in Los Angeles. He is also a fellow of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers.

About Walzer & Melcher LLP: Walzer & Melcher LLP is composed of a team of trial attorneys who practice family law exclusively. They handle divorce, custody and paternity cases in Los Angeles and Ventura County. The team is also knowledgeable related areas of law, such as real estate, corporations, partnerships, pensions, taxation, trusts and estates and criminal, which allows them to better serve their family law clients.

Peter M. Walzer
Walzer & Melcher LLP
(818) 591-3700

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SOURCE:  Peter M. Walzer of Walzer & Melcher LLP

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