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The wife of developer John Temple, former president of Arvida Corp., is suing for divorce, saying she never would have signed a prenuptial agreement had she known her husband would have his vasectomy reversed. Catherine B. Temple, whose case is being heard in Palm Beach Circuit Court in Florida, is claiming a case of vasectomy fraud that led to the birth of their two children. But the claim, when first made, didn’t fly with Judge Gary L. Vonhof, who is hearing the divorce case. Last month he told Catherine’s attorney, Robert A. Sweetapple of Sweetapple Broeker & Varkas in Boca Raton, Fla., that he couldn’t amend her divorce petition to include a vasectomy-fraud scenario. So, Sweetapple went shopping for another judge, filing a new suit, in which the wife claims fraud, on June 12, also in Palm Beach Circuit Court. In the new suit, Sweetapple writes that his client “reluctantly brings this action” to rescind the Nov. 25, 1986, prenuptial agreement. Sweetapple admits Vonhof would not let him make a vasectomy bait-and-switch claim in family court. John Temple was vacationing this week and could not be reached for comment. But his lawyer, John T. Christiansen of Christiansen & Jacknin in West Palm Beach, Fla., says the case is “completely frivolous and an abuse of the judicial system.” “We have a trial coming up in July or August on the validity of this [prenuptial] agreement,” he adds, noting he has not read the complaint. Christiansen said it “beats me” why Sweetapple is taking this tact, since Vonhof last October ordered that the prenuptial agreement would be litigated separately from the rest of the divorce issues. Vonhof, in denying Catherine’s attempt to seek damages for fraud, wrote that to allow those claims would “simply throw procedural roadblocks into the orderly trial of the case.” Temple, who presided over Arvida during the 1980s development boom, left Arvida in 1987, three years after Disney bought the company for $214 million. He now owns Temple Development Co., Temple Management Co., Boca/Research Park Inc., Florida Atlantic University Research and Development Park Maintenance Association Inc. and BTM Airplane Corp. — all run out of his offices in Boca Raton. He owns shares in seven other Florida land development corporations, according to the Florida secretary of state. Sweetapple argues in the new suit that Catherine will receive significantly less alimony and a much smaller share of John Temple’s assets if the prenuptial contract is upheld. Sweetapple could not be reached for comment. According to the complaint, before the marriage John Temple informed Catherine that he did not want to have children. In 1986, John, then 46, told Catherine, then 34, signed a prenuptial agreement. At the time, the complaint says, Catherine was under the impression they would not have children. But, according to the complaint, John Temple “secretly harbored a desire to have a son and have his vasectomy reversed after the parties executed the [prenuptial] agreement and became married.” In March 1987, John had surgery in Miami reversing the vasectomy. He wanted a son, he allegedly told his new wife. That May, Catherine became pregnant but miscarried. In November, she became pregnant a second time, delivering a healthy son, John Michael, on July 4, 1988. In August 1992, Catherine liquidated her businesses and began working part-time as a consultant to spend more time with their son, according to the complaint filed this week. Then on July 9, 1994, daughter Kristin was born. Sweetapple claims that raising the children has diminished Catherine’s career and her ability to earn a living. Vonhof ruled that Catherine could not make a fraud claim for damages and ask for a jury trial. So Sweetapple went looking for a friendly judge. But the effort to find a new judge “smacks a little of forum-shopping,” said Bernard P. Perlmutter, director of the Children and Youth Law Clinic of the University of Miami School of Law. The wife’s separate “end run” from Vonhof’s ruling has little chance of success, he said, adding that Catherine should have taken an appeal to the 4th District Court of Appeal. “Re-pleading the case before another judge is not the way to get a second bite of the apple,” he said.

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