Certified Translation of Foreign Marriage Contracts
Certified translations of foreign marriage contracts and foreign prenups from foreign languages to English and certified translations of prenuptial agreements from English to a foreign language play an important role in divorce and family law litigation and in estate litigation. In one recent divorce case, the Supreme Court of New Hampshire examined the validity of a prenuptial agreement that a lower court declined to enforce. In In the Matter of Mariana Nizhnikov and Alexander Nizhnikov, the parties began their romantic relationship in 2003 and became engaged in 2005. At the time they began dating and throughout their dating relationship, the woman lived in Russia while the man lived in the United States. After their engagement, the couple visited each other on various occasions in their respective countries but decided that they would marry in Russia.
Legal Translation of Prenuptial Agreement to Russian
Before the couple married, the man informed the woman that they would need to secure a prenuptial agreement because he had three children that needed to be protected in the event they divorced. The man drafted an agreement with the assistance of an attorney and forwarded the agreement to the woman in Russia. The woman had the prenuptial agreement translated from English into Russian, which was her primary language. At the time the document was translated, the parties had not set a wedding date.
The woman returned to the United States in January of 2006 and the parties were married on February 3rd, 2006 in Mont Vernon, New Hampshire. The parties signed the prenuptial agreement on the same day as they married. Although the prenuptial agreement referenced certain financial documents as being attached to their agreement, no such documents were actually attached to the agreement at the time the agreement was executed.
The parties eventually decided to divorce. At the parties’ divorce proceeding, the trial court found that the prenuptial agreement was invalid based on the “collapsed time frame” leading up to the marriage and because the prenuptial agreement referenced certain financial statements that had not been executed. Because of these factors, the trial court found that the agreement was a product of duress.
Availability of English to Russian Translation of the Prenuptial Agreement Points to the Absence of Duress
The Supreme Court of New Hampshire rejected the trial court’s finding of duress. The court reasoned that the couple had discussed a prenuptial agreement in 2005 before the wife traveled to the United States in 2006 and considered the fact that she had the agreement translated into Russian before the marriage.
The Supreme Court of New Hampshire held that the fact that the parties had no definite wedding date or plans at the time the agreement was exchanged did not invalidate it just because the parties signed the agreement on the same day they wed.
Supreme Court of New Hampshire Upholds Validity of Prenuptial Agreement Signed by Russian Lawyer-Bride
The Supreme Court of New Hampshire also held that the parties’ failure to attach the financial disclosures to the prenuptial agreement did not render it involuntary because the wife had ample time to investigate the husband’s finances and/or obtain legal counsel before marrying, which she failed to do.
In addition, the court found the woman to be well-educated and sophisticated, noting that she obtained a law degree in Russia and worked in a high-level position within the husband’s company overseeing 200 employees. Furthermore, the court noted that as a result of the wife’s position within her husband’s company, the wife was well aware of the company’s finances and had access to its financial records and had even prepared budgets for the business. Finally, the court considered the fact that the agreement contained a waiver stating that the wife had ample time to investigate the husband’s property but relinquished her right to do so.
Based on these factors, the Supreme Court of New Hampshire found that the prenuptial agreement had not been obtained involuntarily as a result of duress. Accordingly, the court vacated the trial court’s order regarding property distribution and remanded it to distribute the couple’s property in accordance with the prenuptial agreement. The court did, however, reject the husband’s request for a reversal of the circuit court’s other decisions regarding a restraining order, a parenting plan, and residency requirements.
The case is In the Matter of Marianna Nizhnikov and Alexander Nizhnikov, Court No. 2014-0794, decided by the Supreme Court of New Hampshire on January 26, 2016.
Contact All Language Alliance, Inc. to obtain certified translation of international prenuptial agreements from English to Simplified Chinese, Traditional Chinese, Portuguese, Spanish, French, German, Korean, Japanese, Russian, Arabic, and other foreign languages, and certified translation of foreign prenups from any language to English.
This language translation blog article should not be construed as legal advice. You should always consult an attorney regarding your specific legal needs.