No Mention of Pension in Prenup Doesn't Entitle Wife to Benefits

December 28, 2009 ( – A Florida appeals court has found that an ex-spouse was not being deceitful when he failed to list a pension account in a prenuptial agreement.

The District Court of Appeal for Florida’s Fourth District agreed with a trial court that Mary Lou Gordon failed to prove that the agreement was reached through fraud, deceit, duress, coercion, misrepresentation, or overreaching, according to a summary of the opinion by Leagle, Inc. Additionally, the appellate court agreed with the trial court that Michael A. Gordon’s disclosure of his financial assets was adequate, citing a previous court of appeal case which found that a financial disclosure need not be “minutely detailed nor exact.”

The majority of the court panel considered the prominent mention of pensions in the body of the agreement to be sufficient to provide Ms. Gordon with a general and approximate knowledge of her former husband’s resources. The court also noted that Ms. Gordon learned the details of the Mr. Gordon’s airline pension plan less than a year after they were married and made no attempt to modify the agreement to account for these benefits.

A dissenting judge said he believes “an undervaluation of at least $143,000 (and perhaps as high as $229,000) is neither a minute detail nor excusably inexact.”

The agreement provided, among other things, that each party’s property at the time of the marriage was to remain his or her separate property. It included a section titled “Pension Benefits” in which Mary Lou and Michael each specifically waived his or her rights to the other’s pension benefit plans.

In addition, the agreement included a provision stating that “[a]ll savings, investments, retirement accounts, 401K accounts, USAF retirement account and property listed on the attached schedules as property owned by a party prior to the marriage shall remain the property of the person who brought such property into the marriage,” according to Leagle, Inc. The Gordon’s each attached financial disclosures to the agreement, and Mr. Gordon’s financial disclosure did not list the pension he was accruing as a pilot for a major domestic airline.