Legal Translation, Foreign Language Premarital Agreements, and Full Faith and Credit Clause

July 31, 2009

We've blogged about professional legal translation of premarital agreements. When a foreign prenuptial agreement is sought to be enforced in the United States, one of the first questions a court faces is to determine the validity of the agreement. Thus, the question is whether or not the foreign country in which the agreement was entered has ruled that the agreement is in fact valid. When making a determination as to whether a foreign judgment can be enforced in the U.S., two bodies of law come into play.

First is the Full Faith and Credit Clause, which requires that every state court honor the acts, records and judicial proceedings of other state courts. However, the Full Faith and Credit Clause does not apply to judgment of foreign countries. Thus, one must turn to the Doctrine of Comity. This is the theory that a court in one country either declines to exercise jurisdiction under certain circumstances in deference to the interest of the foreign country, or agrees to apply another country's decisions due to the confidence they have in that judicial system's procedures. Typically, the main determining factor is whether or not the foreign laws are compatible with the American legal concept of due process. In order to make this determination, a foreign language translation of the foreign laws will be required.