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Case Brief



Courtof Appeals of Virginia

Chaplainv. Rabha Chaplain., 682 S.E.2d 108 (Va. Ct. App. 2009)

September8, 2009,

Facts:an order of Circuit Court was challenged by the wife to reverse theruling that was made in the City of Virginia Beach and the respondentwho is the husband wrote a motion to strike the evidence broughtforward by the wife that she could not read or understand what was inagreement before signing was a lie and that she understood very wellwhat she was doing. &quotThe wife made a prima facie, and that iswhy the ruling ended in her favor before.&quot Chaplain v. RabhaChaplain., 682 S.E.2d 108 (Va. Ct. App. 2009).

Proceduralhistory: the case is in the trial court after the court of appealremanded the case after reversing the order that was initially made.The court of the first instance had made a mistake by allowing RabhaChaplain’s appeal, she had lied to the court.

Issue:whether the wife knew what she was getting into when she signed theagreement.

Applicablerules of law: Under contract laws, the woman should prove beyondreasonable doubt that as to what was in the contract and inequalityin her case should be gross in such a way that it shocks theconscience.

Holdings:Does the case against the appellee husband by the appellant wife showthat enforceable and was not unconscionable.

Thecourt`s order: the court remanded the cases, and it was sent forfurther proceedings to the trial court

Reasoning:The court came to the conclusion that there was no enough evidence toshow that the wife was unconscionable.

Didthe spouse, in Rabha Chaplain V Billy W Chaplain, make a prima facieand for that reason have the case ruled in her favor? A Prima Facieis a fact that seems to be true until the notion of its truth hasbeen dispelled. In other words, did the wife, Rabha Chaplain by heractions provide a fact which at first look seems accurate but mightbe proven untrue if the truth is investigated properly and theassumption dispelled. In general terms, a prima facie is known torepresent the presentation of sufficient evidence by a civil claimantto support their claim.

Thefacts of the matter are, Rabha Chaplain challenged the Virginia Courtruling in her husband`s favor. Her challenge is on the grounds of itbeing unsociable. The grounds of being unsociable would make thepremarital agreement not valid and non-enforceable. The husband,Billy Chaplain, moved to strike her evidence in her appeal. The manbased it on his belief that it was prima facie, evidence designed toput her in a good light. That she did not understand the premaritalagreement

RabhaChaplain made a prima facie statement that caused the ruling of hercivil suit in her favor. It is noted that the husband Billy Wchaplain, claims that the wife understood what she was signing at thetime of her signing it. Another fact of the matter is that thehusband Billy W Chapman had won the first suit in his favor beforethe wife Rabha Chapman made the prima facie that she could not readnor write which caused the reversal making the lawsuit to be judgedin her favor. The fact of the matter according to the husband, BillyW Chapman is that the wife can read and write and hence the purposeof his move to have her evidence struck off.

Herappeal of the trial court ruling that the premarital marriageagreement was valid and enforceable. Her argument that the Trialcourt erred in ruling (1)declaration of prenuptial agreement validunder Virginia statutes (2) failure to consider all facts andcircumstances determining validity of the prenuptial agreement (3)conclusion that she signed the prenuptial agreement of her own freewill. (4) prenuptial agreement being consciable. The granting by theTrial Court the husband`s motion to strike, upon which the appeal ismade.

Thepremarital agreement in question was drafted on June 26, 1997. Itstated that which was to happen to the property acquired duringmarriage in the event separation. Both parties voided rights on eachothers properties such as right to benefits from retirement and lifepolicies, right to inherit, any alimony, legal fees and equaldistribution of property.

Onor about June 26, 1997, husband retained an attorney to draft apremarital agreement, which wife executed. The prenuptial agreementprovided that, in the event of a divorce, each party waived theirinterest in the other party`s property, their right to inherit fromthe other, their right to equitable distribution, spousal support,retirement and life insurance benefits, and attorney`s fees andcosts. The wife would only get one asset, the sum of $100,000provided they be married at the time of the husband`s passing. Theruling of June 17, 2008, held the agreement was not unconscionable.It was thus valid and enforceable. This is the bone of contentionleading to the wife`s appeal.

Whetherthe Prenuptial Agreement is Enforceable

Underthe Virginia Premarital Agreement Act, a prenuptial contract isrendered null and void, if found unconscionable, voluntary agreementand an unreasonable amount of disclosure of information are provided.The waiver of disclosure of such information, however, must be signedin addition to the premarital agreement.

Thewife`s challenge to the ruling by it being unconscionable holds inlight of the husband`s confession to not providing all theinformation. The wife though never had reason to suspect any foulplay as he showed the most meager of means as she knew him. This isthe misrepresentation.


Theruling of the court that the wife was not unconscionable. That shehad not beyond doubt proven that Billy W Chaplain the husband was notunreasonable. The remanding of the matter for further proceedingsshould see the actions come to close. The wife could be brought toanswer based on the evidence the husband can provide against her.Lying to the court under oath, perjury, is an offense. The judge maydecide to institute proceedings against her.

Onthe other hand, the matter of the premarital agreement, the court wasnever presented with documents signed showing the wife voided herrights to know all financial information about the husband before shesigned the prenuptial agreement. The wife never did enquireindependent of the man after the signing. Misrepresentation voids acontract. That is the most basic ten net of contract law. Thecontract was voided by the action of the husband or not. Ignorance ofthe law is no defense.

Thecourt may in its wisdom see the premarital agreement voided. Thiswould grant the wife Rabha Chaplain half of the possessions of BillyW Chaplain. The conduct of both parties should be brought toquestion, and both disclose their wealth for equitable distribution.

Thecourt`s finding of the wife not unconscionable may have bothacquitted without further trouble.




VIRGINIA’SJUDICIAL SYSTEM, unpublished opinion




RabhaChaplain v Billy W. Chaplain 09/08/2009