In re Estate of Kevin Joseph Connolly

The court will grant a son’s petition to strike a provision in his father’s will conditioning his inheritance on no longer being married to his wife. The petitioner has been married to his wife for more than 20 years, and they have four children together.

The language of the will conclusively shows the testator’s intent for the petitioner to divorce his wife. Evidence is that the father adamantly opposed the marriage at the time, refused to attend the wedding ceremony, and repeatedly expressed contempt for the petitioner’s wife following the marriage. Virginia courts have long held that provisions in contracts that encourage divorce are prohibited as against public policy. The next logical step is that a stipulation in a will that encourages a devisee to divorce his or her spouse, absent an intent to financially protect the devisee, is as loathsome as an absolute prohibition on marriage and therefore violates public policy.

Because this provision threatens to cut off the petitioner’s remainder if he does not obey the testator’s demand, the court strikes that condition. The Petitioner will be entitled to a share of the proceeds when the house is sold.

Petition granted.

In re Estate of Kevin Joseph Connolly, No. CL18-2347, Apr. 16, 2019. Fairfax (Smith).

Categories: Opinions, Virginia Circuit Courts

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