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In re Marriage of Erpelding

March 13, 2018

Case Name: In re Marriage of ErpeldingFiled: March 2, 2018 by Iowa Supreme Court (No. 16-1419)Subject matter: This case includes discussion of the following: Whether a provision waiving attorney fees in the parties’ premarital agreement is an enforceable provision.Premarital Agreements in Iowa are subject to the IUPAA as codified in Iowa Code chapter 596.The Court resolved this case without enunciation of Iowa’s public policy on the enforceability of premarital agreement provisions waiving attorney fees. Instead, the Court relied upon the well-established principals of statutory interpretation in discerning the meaning of “adversely affected” in § 596.5(2).There are two reasonable interpretations of § 596.5(2) and therefore the statute is ambiguous.When interpreting an ambiguous statute, the Court will consider: 1) the object sought to be obtained; and 2) the history and circumstances surrounding the enactment of the statute. Iowa Code § 4.6(1)-(2).Section 596.5 was enacted to explicitly and broadly protect the rights to child support and spousal support.A financially disadvantaged spouse may be unable to adequately litigate support claims and therefore a waiver of attorney fees would adversely affect the right to support.The Court held a premarital agreement provision waiving attorney fees pertaining to child support or spousal support is unenforceable because it adversely affects a spouse’s or child’s right to support.More Information:Iowa Supreme Court: In re Marriage of Erpelding

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