Unfaithful Girlfriend Challenges Inheritance Right
Here at Finders Ireland, we’re used to stories about inheritance battles but this one featured
in the Indy Star recently piqued our interest in particular.
A couple in Madison, US ended up in court after the girlfriend was unfaithful to him. Eight
years into their relationship, John Scott had added girlfriend Tina Hemingway’s name to the
title of the 10 acres of land he had inherited. The addition came with a condition – that his
girlfriend remained faithful to him. The condition was added in writing.
Two months after they had signed the handwritten contract, Hemingway became pregnant
by another man. Their relationship ended but Hemingway argued she was still entitled to
her share of the land.
Hemingway’s child was born in January 2013 and she moved out of her and Scott’s home in
June that year. Scott sent her a notice, claiming she was in breach of contract and she must
return her interest in the property to him.
His ex-girlfriend filed a suit to partition the property and Scott then filed a counterclaim,
saying she had breached the contract. Last year, Scott won the first stage when the
Jefferson Circuit Court judge ruled in his favour. Hemingway filed an appeal against the
ruling in April.
According to the Indy Star, her appeal argued the property deed “extinguished the contract
and that the contract was unenforceable” because of public policies that forbid contracts
that consider “meretricious sexual services”.
However, three appellate court judges disagreed with her appeal was based on a sexual
contract. They confirmed the original judge’s ruling.
Judge Terry A. Crone said the contract was akin to a prenuptial ruling, where parties resolve
their relative rights to property ahead of time in case their relationship ends. He added that
the contract didn’t require anyone to perform sexual services and neither did ask either
party to refrain from all sexual activity – just that cheating constituted a breach of contract.
In this case, it was ruled that the appellant was “inarguably unfaithful” and that she had
wasted little time in breaking the contract.
In the US, prenuptial contracts can have different results. In California, for instance, an
infidelity clause in a prenuptial contract was found to be unenforceable in a case in 2002
because it was contrary to California’s no-fault divorce laws. In other states though infidelity
contracts are enforceable if it can be proved and it doesn’t violate state laws.