Wednesday, August 30, 2023

I Never Promised You The Rose Garden

The Maryland Supreme Court enforced a $7 million "bad boy" post-nuptial agreed upon payment for an act of adultery that took place after a reconciliation from a prior act of adultery. 

The parties

Petitioner and Respondent were married on March 25, 2006 in the District of Columbia. Both parties have college degrees. Respondent was employed as an event planner and served as the White House Social Secretary between February 2017 and January 2021, earning between $130,000 and $200,000 per year. Petitioner was a wealth manager who earned between $70,000 and $122,000 per year. Petitioner has a wealthy family, including his paternal grandmother, Rachel Mellon, who left him a substantial inheritance after she passed away in March 2014.

On June 2, 2014, Respondent discovered that Petitioner was involved in an extramarital affair. The parties separated. Although Respondent was “uncertain if she wanted to remain in the marriage[,]” the parties worked toward “build[ing] trust” and ascertaining the reason for Petitioner’s infidelity. The parties consulted a priest and a therapist beginning in the late summer. Upon Respondent’s request, Petitioner: (1) provided her with the passwords to his financial and email accounts; (2) transferred a portion of his inheritance into an account held with Respondent as tenants by the entirety; (3) converted to Catholicism; (4) sold the car he had used with his affair partner; and (5) underwent a vasectomy. During the autumn of 2014, Respondent introduced the idea of a postnuptial agreement to Petitioner. Thereafter, the parties each retained two attorneys to prepare the Agreement. Petitioner retained Deborah Cochran, Esq., an estate law attorney, and Julie Day, Esq., a family law attorney. Respondent retained Alison Noll, Esq., an estate law attorney, and Ann Luu, Esq., a family law attorney.

They reached an agreement that contained an adultery penalty but

After the parties entered into the Agreement, Petitioner engaged in another extramarital affair in October 2018. The parties separated on April 14, 2019, after Petitioner advised Respondent that he no longer wished to remain married to her.

The court

A foundation of many marriages is the vow that spouses will, for better or for worse, remain faithful to one another. We hold that Maryland law allows spouses to allocate marital assets in a postnuptial agreement based on whether a spouse engaged in adultery, thereby causing the breakdown of the marriage.

Policy

We hold that the public policy in Maryland currently supports spouses negotiating in good faith to condition a transfer of marital assets upon the dissolution of the marriage when a spouse commits adultery.

And

we hold that the $7 million lump sum provision in this case is valid and enforceable. Petitioner argues that the provision is overly broad because it imposed the same $7 million “penalty” to conduct ranging from trivial physical contact to sexual relations. Petitioner also claims that the $7 million lump sum is excessive because it “awarded [Respondent] more than 100% of the marital estate.” These arguments are unpersuasive.

A profile on Respondent from USA Today

First Lady Melania Trump on Wednesday announced the appointment of Anna Cristina Niceta Lloyd to fill the all-important position of White House social secretary for the Trump administration.

Niceta Lloyd, known as Rickie, who helped organize the inaugural celebrations for President Trump, will join the first lady in planning and execution of social events at the White House, including state dinners, social calendar events such as the White House Easter Egg Roll , official administration policy-related events, and FLOTUS projects.

Trump said Niceta Lloyd has plenty of experience, including a link to a past first lady, Jacqueline Kennedy: She is married to Thomas Lloyd, a grandson of the late Bunny Mellon, wife of Paul Mellon, both of whom were friends and mentors to Mrs. Kennedy, who hired garden designer Bunny to design and plant the White House Rose Garden, backdrop to many a White House event.

(Mike Frisch)

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/legal_profession/2023/08/the-maryland-supreme-court-the-parties-petitioner-and-respondent-were-married-on-march-25-2006-in-the-district-of-columbi.html

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