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Prenup of millionaire set aside

In the climate of today's divorce laws, perhaps the wisest thing a person can do is obtain a prenuptual agreement prior to marriage. Ideally, it is a way for the parties to clarify beforehand the rights and expectations of each party in the event of a divorce--that is, instead of leaving it in the arbitrary hands of one person: the judge.

One recent case shocked the legal community when a trial judge set aside the prenuptual agreement of a millionaire due to fraud. His wife now stands to be awarded several million dollars from the fortune. For several years divorce attorneys have grown accustomed to statutes and caselaw that accord prenuptual agreements favorable treatment, whereas in the past, such agreements were strictly scrutinized and routinely set aside for any reason.

My view on this case is dramatically different from most divorce attorneys. I do not believe it was wrongly decided. Prenuptual agreements shoudl be afforded the same treatment as any other contract--not less, and not more. Under ordinary contract law, "fraud in the inducement" to the contract is a valid defense to the enforcement of a contract. Such fraud occurs when, in the absence of the intentionally false representation, teh aggrieved party never would have entered into the contract in the first place.

In this case, the groom made a litany of false reprsentations to the bride to get her to sign the contract, none of which he had the intention at that time of fulfilling. Further, he placed the bride in undue duress by springing the issue just days before the very public ceremony.