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Drawing & quartering prenup, burying it at sea doesn't revoke it; only new notarized agreement does.

New York lawyer Daniel Clement reports on a recent case from Brooklyn of a couple who tore up their prenup on the honeymoon and threw it off a cruise ship, leaving no originals of it in existence. If that were a will, it would revoke it, but a prenup generally has wording like this one did, saying that it can be revoked and modified only by a new document signed with the same formalities as the original. Usually this would mean notarization, and in some states, additional witnesses.

In the divorce twelve years later, the wife claimed the couple had never intended the prenup to be binding, did not even read it, and only signed it to placate the husband's family. The husband denied this, but the court said it wouldn't matter anyhow: Like almost all such contracts, this prenup had language saying there were no side agreements or other understandings which would change or condition its effects.

The law holds people responsible for what they signed, and assumes they read and know what they signed. And if they didn't, they should be responsible for it anyway. And that's a very good thing. Without binding and enforceable contracts, a modern society can't function and ordered liberty is impossible.

Clement concludes: "Negotiate every term as if it means something, because it does. If the agreement is to be revoked, revoke it with the requisite formality."


Caleb Hart

This is a really interesting article. I've been studying law for about a year now and I think I'm going to specialize in family law. We're studying prenuptial agreements right now in class and this story would be a good topic for our discussion. I think it's weird the wife said she thought the prenup wasn't binding. http://www.fayettevilledivorceatty.com

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