Ind. Girlfriend cheats way out of inheritance, court says

Eight years into their relationship, John Scott decided to add his girlfriend's name to the title of 10 acres he had long since inherited. But the Indiana man had a condition: She couldn't cheat on him.

And they put it in writing.

About two months after they signed the handwritten contract, his girlfriend, Tina Hemingway, became pregnant. By another man.

Their relationship was about to end. Their court battle was about to begin.

Hemingway delivered the child in January 2013. She moved out in early June 2013, and that same month, Scott sent Hemingway written notice that she was in breach of the contract and must return her interest in the property to him, according to court documents.

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Hemingway filed a suit to partition the property, and subsequently, Scott filed a counterclaim for breach of contract.

Scott, of Madison, Ind., won round one last year when Jefferson Circuit Court judge Darrell M. Auxier ruled in his favor. Hemingway filed an appeal in April.

Neither party responded to requests for comment.

In her appeal, Hemingway argued that the property deed itself extinguished the contract and that the contract was unenforceable based on public policy that prohibits contracts in consideration of "meretricious sexual services."

But the three appellate court judges disagreed with Hemingway that the agreement was based on a sexual contract and affirmed Auxier's ruling.

"This contract is akin to a prenuptial agreement, in which the parties resolve ahead of time their relative rights in property should the relationship dissolve," states the decision, authored by Judge Terry A. Crone.

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"Even so, we observe that the contract does not require either party to perform sexual services. Nor does it require either party to abstain from all sexual activity," Crone wrote. "Rather, it simply lists cheating by either party as one of the acts constituting breach."

Prenuptial contracts forbidding extramarital affairs are nothing new to the court system. However, depending on the locale, they can have varying results.

In a 2002 case, Diosdado v. Diosdado, a California trial court found that an infidelity clause in a post-nuptial agreement was not enforceable because it was contrary to the public policy underlying California's no-fault divorce laws. However, in other states, infidelity laws reportedly are enforceable, provided the infidelity can be proven and the agreement does not violate state law.

In this case, the judges concluded that the appellant was inarguably unfaithful. In Crone's words, "Hemingway wasted little time in breaching the contract."

Follow Fatima Hussein on Twitter: @fatimathefatima


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