FROM THE SALINE COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT [NO. 63DR-14-71]
HONORABLE BOBBY D. MCCALLISTER, JUDGE
IN PART; REVERSED AND REMANDED IN PART
Wagoner Law Firm, P.A., by: Jack Wagoner III and Angela Mann,
LaCerra, Dickson, Hoover & Rogers, PLLC, by: Traci
LaCerra, Natalie Dickson, and Lauren Hoover, for appellee.
PHILLIP T. WHITEAKER, Judge
appeal arises out of divorce proceedings following the
eleven-year marriage of Stephanie Quinn (Quinn) Branch and
James (Jimmy) Branch. On appeal, we are
charged with determining whether the circuit court erred by
(1) finding that the parties' premarital agreement was
unenforceable pursuant to the Arkansas Premarital Agreement
Act; (2) finding that Jimmy breached the premarital agreement
rendering it unenforceable; and (3) equally dividing the
equity in a house acquired during the parties' marriage.
We affirm in part and reverse and remand in part.
and Jimmy were married in July 2003. Prior to the marriage,
the parties executed a premarital agreement. In January 2014,
Quinn filed a complaint for divorce. In her complaint, Quinn
sought to have the premarital agreement declared void
pursuant to Arkansas Code Annotated section 9-11-406(a)(2)
(Repl. 2015). Jimmy filed an answer to Quinn's complaint,
denying that the premarital agreement was void; he also
counterclaimed for divorce.
circuit court held a final divorce hearing in September 2014.
In October 2014, the circuit court issued a letter opinion,
and later in November 2014, a decree of divorce was entered,
memorializing the circuit court's decision. Thereafter,
Jimmy appealed to this court. This court dismissed that
appeal without prejudice because of a deficient Rule 54(b)
certificate. See Branch, supra. Following
this court's dismissal, the case returned to the Saline
County Circuit Court wherein the court issued an amended
divorce decree that included a Rule 54(b) certificate
complying with our rules. Jimmy timely appealed from the
appeal, Jimmy raises three general arguments in support of
reversal. He contends that (1) the circuit court improperly
invalidated the parties' premarital agreement pursuant to
Arkansas Code Annotated section 9-11-406(a)(2); (2) the
circuit court erred in finding that he breached the
premarital agreement rendering it unenforceable; and (3) the
circuit court improperly distributed his premarital property,
specifically, the house acquired during the marriage that was
solely in his name.
Standard of Review
standard of review is well settled. We try domestic relations
cases de novo on appeal, and will not r ever se a cir cu it
co u r t's f ind in gs unless they are clearly erroneous.
Taylor v. Taylor, 345 Ark. 300, 47 S.W.3d 222
(2001). A finding is clearly erroneous when, although there
is evidence to support it, the reviewing court on the entire
evidence is left with a definite and firm conviction that a
mistake has been committed. Norman v. Norman, 342
Ark. 493, 30 S.W.3d 83 (2000).
Whether the Circuit Court Improperly Invalidated the
and Jimmy's premarital agreement is governed by the
Arkansas Premarital Agreement Act. See Ark. Code
Ann. § 9-11-401 et seq. The Arkansas Premarital
Agreement Act places the burden on the party contesting the
agreement to prove its invalidity. Ark. Code Ann. §
9-11-406(a). Here, Quinn bore that burden. Under the Arkansas
Premarital Agreement Act, Quinn could invalidate the
agreement by proving that it was not executed voluntarily.
Ark. Code Ann. § ...