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John Henig and Ashley Penhale prevail on issue of first impression in domestic relations case

John Henig and Ashley Penhale successfully represented the Husband on appeal from a judgment of the trial court that, among other things, awarded the Wife one-half of all jointly owned property as well as a $520,000.00 “property settlement.”  On appeal, the Husband argued that the property settlement violated the parties’ antenuptial agreement under which the Wife waived her right to any form of alimony or support, including a property settlement.  The Husband also argued that the parties’ agreement provided no method by which the properties separately acquired by either party during the marriage could become marital property.  The Wife on the other hand argued that all of the Husband’s separate property became joint property because the parties filed joint federal and state income-tax returns during the marriage, and all the income they reported must therefore be deemed “jointly earned.”


In an issue of first impression, the Court held that “the parties' filing of joint income-tax returns during the marriage did not convert the husband's separate property into marital property.”  The Court of Civil Appeals issued a unanimous decision reversing and remanding with instructions after finding that the trial court erred as a matter of law in disregarding the parties’ antenuptial agreement and awarding the Wife a $520,000.00 property settlement.  Holston v. Holston, 2013 Ala.Civ.App. LEXIS 121 (May 17, 2013)


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