A Rose by Any Other Name...

Warren Rosendale was a successful business man when he met Carol Walton. The two fell in love, and decided to get married. Since both had been married before, they decided to provide each other with pre-nuptial agreements. The agreements provided for the disposition of their properties and possible spousal support obligations in the event the marriage ended. Then they romantically set sail and married at sea, and began to live the "good life" in his homes in La Quinta and Balboa Island (both places known as playgrounds for the rich and famous). For the next nine years, they lived that "good life", spending their time together playing tennis at their country club, running off for weekend skiing trips, and logging miles on their boats Bandit and Samurai.

That "good life" ended abruptly, however, when Carol sustained life-threatening injuries in a car accident. Her injuries included a crushed face, brain damage, and too many shattered bones to count. (Later, in his court documentation describing her condition, her then attorney said the accident rendered her a "virtual Frankenstein.")

Two and one-half years after Carol's accident, Warren pulled the plug on their marriage and filed for divorce. As per their pre-nuptial agreement, he paid Carol $100,000 in exchange for her waiver of spousal support. Carol, unable to support herself, wanted Warren to continue supporting her and filed for spousal support. The case made its way through the court system, with Carol the ultimate winner. The prenup regarding spousal support was thrown out and Warren was ordered to pay Carol support.

The Court held that it was against public policy to allow Warren to avoid the responsibility of providing for his invalid ex-wife. Public policy states that spouses provide for each other in marriage, during sickness and in health, and the obligation does not end when the marriage ends, if the other spouse is incapable of providing for him/herself.

California law does allow for couples entering into a marriage to provide each other with pre-nuptial (pre-marital) agreements, but the laws for such agreements can be very complicated and should be handled by competent attorneys. In fact, one law states that the party requesting the prenup must provide the other party with an attorney no less than seven days before their marriage takes place.

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