Marriage of MiotkeAnnotate this Case
Natalia and Peter Miotke began communicating in 1995. Natalia lived in Russia and Peter in the U.S. Both were trained architects. All of their correspondence was in English. Natalia began working for a Houston architectural firm, doing her work in English. Natalia moved to California and became pregnant with the parties’ child, born in September 1996. Peter wanted a premarital agreement (PMA); he “secured a paralegal’s help.” The parties signed the PMA in October 1996. Natalia denied seeing the agreement before the signing. Peter disputed that and testified they had previously discussed a waiver of spousal support and that Natalia would be awarded custody of their children in the event of a dissolution of the marriage. The four-page PMA states that there will be no spousal support and that all children will remain in Natalia's custody. The parties married 19 days after the execution of the PMA. Peter filed an I-130 Immigrant Petition, which was approved in 1997. The parties separated after 14 years of marriage. The trial court entered a judgment dissolving the marriage. A private judge found the PMA enforceable, including the provision waiving spousal support to either party. The court of appeal affirmed the entry of judgment on that decision. Three judicial officers carefully considered Natalia’s arguments, including her assertion that she suffered from serious mental illness at the time she signed the agreement. The trial court was in the best position to evaluate her concerns.