When the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame voter inductee results were revealed a few weeks ago, one name that failed to clear the bar was all-time home run leader Barry Bonds.
Known as one the most dominant players in recent history; Bonds reputation has been tarnished due in large part to links with performance enhancing drugs. The fact that Bonds knowingly cheated on America’s game may lock him out of Cooperstown forever.
However, Bonds has a history of cheating; not only in the game, but also on his ex-wife Susann Branco.
Branco, who is a native of Sweden, met Bonds in the summer of 1987 while working as a bartender in Montreal. The coupled were married in February of the following year; but not before a prenuptial agreement was signed relinquishing either party’s right to the others’ earnings during the marriage. Notably Bonds was a star on the rise for the Pittsburgh Pirates while his bride-to-be was currently unemployed.
Six years and two children later, Branco filed for divorce from Bonds citing physical abuse and infidelity. Branco also questioned the validity of the couple’s prenuptial agreement. Branco’s claim hinged on 3 key components. One, that at the time of the agreement her use and understanding of the English language were severely limited. Two, that the document was agreed to in haste without adequate time to review. Three, Branco had no legal representation when the document was signed, only Bonds’ lawyer was present.
While Bonds won the initial ruling, upon appeal a split-decision ruling favored Branco suggesting that the circumstances surrounding the agreement were highly questionable . When Bonds appealed the Supreme Court of California in 1999 the original ruling was reinstated.
While Branco eventually received a cash settlement for 3 properties Bonds owned, major legal ground was broken as a result of this highly publicized case. State Senator Sheila Kuehl, proposed a bill which clarified that for a binding prenuptial agreement both entering parties needed to be represented by independent counsel, the agreement needed to be explained to both parties in their native language and finally each party would be given a minimum of 7 days to review the proposal.