The Marriage Contract of a Walmart Heiress

TMZ has reported that Walmart Heiress Paige Laurie Dubbert had her husband sign a marriage contract that gives him $15 million, but only if they are married for 30 years and Paige passes away. The marriage contract includes a provision whereby Patrick Dubbert receives spousal support in the amount of $30,000 per month for half the length of the marriage. As Page and Patrick have been marriage almost six years, this means that Patrick will receive spousal support for approximately 36 months if a court upholds the contract.

Patrick, however, believes that he can do better and is attempting to set aside the marriage contract. In Ontario, a marriage contract can be set aside in accordance with section 56(4) of the Family Law Act. This section provides that a court may set aside a domestic contract or a provision in it,

  1. If a party failed to disclose to the other significant assets, or significant debts or other liabilities, existing when the domestic contract was made;
  2. If a party did not understand the nature or consequences of the domestic contract; or
  3. Otherwise in accordance with the law of contract.

Patrick claims that he was convinced not to use his lawyer to negotiate the document by Paige's lawyer and that he was pressured into signing the contract. As such, if Patrick were to attempt to set aside the marriage contract in Ontario, he would do so in under subsection (b) and (c) of section 56(4).

First, Patrick may argue that he did not receive independent legal advice when entering into the marriage contract, and, consequently, did not understand the nature or consequences of the contract. Further, although unlikely to succeed, Patrick may argue that he was under duress when entering into the contract if he felt pressured to execute the document. However, a court may not see the ultimatum presented be Paige's parents - that he either sign the marriage contract before they returned from their trip or they would not pay $100,000 for the wedding planner – as duress.

Thus, if the parties were to reside in Ontario, Patrick's attempt to set aside the marriage contract may be best pursued pursuant to section 56(4)(b) of the Family Law Act. That is, that he did not understand the nature or consequences of the marriage contract.

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