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Ex-husband's argument that $20,000 property settlement was satisfied by paying ex-wife's debt fails

The court affirmed the trial court's order denying the defendant's (ex-husband) objection to garnishment, originally and on reconsideration. In the judgment of divorce, defendant was ordered to pay the plaintiff (ex-wife) "$20,000.00 as a property settlement transfer." She claimed that he failed to make the required payment, and initiated garnishment proceedings against him. Defendant contended that "he had already made the $20,000 payment during the divorce litigation by refinancing the marital home, with the resulting promissory note being executed in his name only, and using the proceeds to pay off the $20,581 balance on a loan for which plaintiff was solely liable." Thus, he argued that the divorce judgment "was satisfied relative to his $20,000 payment obligation and plaintiff was not entitled to garnish his wages or bank accounts." His argument on appeal was that "the judgment has been paid." The ultimate question was whether defendant's obligation to pay plaintiff $20,000 under the divorce judgment was independent of the transaction involving the refinancing of the home and payment of the $20,581 debt. "At the divorce settlement hearing, the agreement placed on the record was that defendant would pay plaintiff $20,000 'after the finalized divorce.'" He acknowledged and accepted that agreement and asked the trial court to adopt it in the divorce judgment. He "did not object to this future payment of $20,000, remaining entirely silent on any claim that the payment had already been made." The judgment "unequivocally called for a future payment of $20,000, as it was to be made within 60 days and sent directly to plaintiff's then counsel. Payment was also to be made 'by instrument payable to [p]laintiff,'" and the payment of the $20,581 loan balance owed to the credit union was not by instrument payable to plaintiff. "The divorce judgment even contemplated the possibility of interest 'on any unpaid balance' after 60 days, which language was completely unnecessary and meaningless if the payment obligation had already been satisfied." The court held that nothing in the plain and unambiguous language of the divorce judgment "remotely suggested preexisting satisfaction of the $20,000 judgment obligation. In three separate objections to the proposed judgment of divorce, defendant did not once question the language dictating a future payment of $20,000." His challenge of the garnishment proceedings "was, in effect, an improper collateral attack on the divorce judgment." The parties' agreement was made in open court and was binding.

Antenuptial agreement held to be valid and enforceable

The court held that the parties' antenuptial agreement was valid and enforceable, concluding that to invalidate it on the basis of one party's fault would contravene the agreement's clear and unambiguous language, and that as a matter of law, the...

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