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150891 - Earl Allard, Jr v Christine Allard

Earl Allard, Jr.,
 
James N. McNally
 
Plaintiff-Appellant,
 
v
(Appeal from Ct of Appeals)
 
 
(Wayne – Maher-Brennan, M.)
 
Christine A. Allard,
 
Kevin S. Gentry
 
Defendant-Appellee.
 

Summary

Just before their marriage in 1993, the parties entered into an antenuptial agreement providing for the distribution of their assets and property if they were to divorce.  During the marriage, plaintiff Earl Allard bought real estate through several limited liability companies (LLCs) that were created during the marriage.  Then, in 2010, he filed for divorce.  The only disputed issue was how the antenuptial agreement affected the division of property.  Defendant Christine Allard argued that the agreement was void and unconscionable.  The trial court held that the agreement was valid and enforceable, and interpreted it as entitling Earl Allard to ownership of all of the LLCs and their related properties.  Christine Allard appealed, and the Court of Appeals issued a published opinion that reversed part of the trial court’s ruling.  The appeals court agreed with the trial court that the antenuptial agreement was valid and enforceable, but the panel concluded that the trial court had misapplied the agreement.  The panel ruled that the property acquired by the LLCs was not subject to the antenuptial agreement, and that the agreement did not treat the income earned by the parties during the marriage as separate property.  The appeals court remanded the case to the trial court for additional findings.  Plaintiff Earl Allard filed an application for leave to appeal to the Supreme Court.  The Court granted leave to appeal, and directed the parties to address (1) whether MCL 552.23 and MCL 552.401, which address when a spouse’s separate estate may be treated as marital property, are inapplicable where the parties entered into an antenuptial agreement; and (2) whether the real estate held by the plaintiff’s LLCs, including the marital home, and any income generated by those properties, could be treated as marital assets and, if so, under what conditions.