Austin v. Austin, 445 Mass. 601 (2005) The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court reversed both the trial court and Appeals Court decisions in this case and affirmed the ability of parties to permanently waive alimony in a prenuptial agreement. Atwood & Cherny (Jacob M. Atwood) represented Craig Austin who entered into a prenuptial agreement prior to marrying Donna Austin which provided, amongst other things a waiver of any claims to alimony by Donna. Under the terms of the divorce judgment, enforcing those provisions of the parties’ prenuptial agreement pertaining to property division, Mrs. Austin received, among other things, the marital home valued at $1,275,000, $525,000 in cash, her Lexus automobile, $500 per week in child support and $1,000 per week in alimony. The Supreme Judicial Court found the prenuptial agreement to be enforceable, upholding the waiver of alimony and reversing the alimony award. In doing so, the Supreme Judicial Court followed its earlier decision in DeMatteo v. DeMatteo (2002) and dismissed Mrs. Austin’s contention that the prenuptial agreement that she signed (which included a permanent waiver of alimony) somehow "…stripped her of all marital interests…" and further affirmed that the fact that a prenuptial agreement may "…leave one spouse in an essentially different lifestyle is not a valid basis for determining that the agreement was valid…." The SJC reaffirmed that such agreements made in the contemplation of marriage, waiving rights to property division and alimony, will be enforced absent the "…mental or physical deterioration of the contesting party…" or "…erosion of promised support by inflation…" that would lead a court to determine the agreement to be unconscionable.
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