Prior to marriage, many couples decide to enter into a contract which commonly determines property divisions and spousal support in the event of a future divorce. Alabama couples might be interested in a recent decision made by a court in another state. The ruling stated that one couple’s prenuptial agreement, executed abroad in 1997, is not valid because one of the spouses could not read the language in which the contract was written. At the time the agreement was executed, the bride-to-be relied upon a verbal translation offered by her fiance.
The man in question is apparently worth tens of millions of dollars. The woman is said to have trusted the translation he gave of the prenuptial agreement. He represented that it would simply bar her from being able to lay claim to his parent’s riches if she divorced him. In 2012, when the woman started proceedings for divorce, she says she was shocked to learn that the agreement barred her from making any claim regarding any of her husband’s substantial assets.
A Special Referee in the Manhattan Supreme Court ruled that the woman’s understanding of the contract she had signed is crucial. She further found that it was logical to assume that the woman trusted her fiance to provide a proper translation of the agreement she was signing, which was in German. The couple is currently preparing for a divorce trial, and it now remains to be seen how assets will be divided in light of the recent court ruling throwing out the prenup.
An Alabama couple considering a prenuptial agreement will benefit by ensuring that the contract is easily read and understood by both parties. Typically, each party will need an attorney experienced in handling prenuptial agreements so that an agreement that is fair to both parties is properly negotiated, drafted and executed. Careful wording, as well as ensuring that all concerned parties have a clear understanding of what is written, could go a long ways toward preventing conflict and disagreements further down the line.
Source: New York Post, “Judge says ‘Nein!’ to prenup because wife can’t read German“, Julia Marsh, Jan. 30, 2015