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Puterbaugh v. Puterbaugh

February 14, 2002

ELIZABETH ANN PUTERBAUGH, PETITIONER-APPELLEE
v.
DAVID LESLIE PUTERBAUGH, RESPONDENT-APPELLANT



Appeal from the Circuit Court for the 10th Judicial Circuit, Peoria County, Illinois No. 94-D-878 Honorable David J. Dubicki Judge, Presiding

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Breslin

Released for publication March 29, 2002.

ELIZABETH ANN PUTERBAUGH, PETITIONER-APPELLEE
v.
DAVID LESLIE PUTERBAUGH, RESPONDENT-APPELLANT

Appeal from the Circuit Court for the 10th Judicial Circuit, Peoria County, Illinois No. 94-D-878 Honorable David J. Dubicki Judge, Presiding

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Breslin

PUBLISHED

 Petitioner Elizabeth Puterbaugh filed this action against respondent David Puterbaugh requesting an increase in the amount of child support for their children. During discovery, Elizabeth requested a copy of David's antenuptial agreement that he had executed with his current wife, Katherine. David and Katherine refused to comply with the court's discovery order, claiming that their antenuptial agreement was protected by marital privilege and by a constitutional right to privacy, and that the requested information was duplicative of information they had already provided. The trial court rejected their arguments and found David and Katherine in indirect civil contempt, sanctioning them $500 and $50 per day, respectively, until they complied with the order. David and Katherine appealed. We affirm and hold that antenuptial agreements are not protected by the marital privilege or by a right to privacy. Because an issue remains as to the relevance of the requested document, we remand for an in camera inspection by the trial court as to the document's relevance. Finally, we vacate the contempt order and sanctions as David and Katherine's refusal to comply was a good faith test of the court's discovery order.

FACTS

Elizabeth and David Puterbaugh were married in 1988. They have two children, Walter, age 12, and George, age 1l. Elizabeth and David divorced in 1996; Elizabeth was granted physical custody of the children. David was ordered to pay $3,000 per month in permanent child support and pay other expenses, such as private school tuition and medical costs. Thereafter, David and Katherine decided to marry. They signed an antenuptial agreement in contemplation of that marriage.

Several years later, Elizabeth filed a motion requesting that the court increase the amount of David's child support payments. Accordingly, Elizabeth served David with several requests for production of documents, seeking David's financial information from 1996 to the present. One of Elizabeth's requests for production sought a copy of David and Katherine's antenuptial agreement. David objected, and shortly thereafter, Katherine intervened. After a hearing on Elizabeth's motion, the court ordered that one page of the antenuptial agreement that contained a financial exhibit be produced. When David and Katherine failed to produce the exhibit, they were held in contempt of court and sanctioned $500 and $50 per day, respectively, until they complied with the court's order. Their motion to stay enforcement of the contempt order was granted by the trial court, and they appealed.

ANALYSIS

On appeal, David and Katherine argue that their antenuptial agreement was protected by marital privilege, that production of the requested exhibit would violate their right to privacy, and that the contempt order and sanctions should be vacated.

We review questions of law de novo. See In re Marriage of Bonneau, 294 Ill. App. 3d 720, 691 N.E.2d 123 (1998).

With regard to David and Katherine's first argument, they claim that their antenuptial agreement is privileged and that disclosure of the exhibit would violate their right to privacy in their marriage. In support of their argument, they assert that the agreement was prepared and executed "in contemplation of marriage" and that they were "effectively spouses" at the time of its execution. See 750 ILCS 10/2 (West 2000). David and Katherine contend that because marriage has been given broad constitutional protections as a fundamental right and because the ...


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