Legal Translation of Parol Evidence
Two important rules applicable to interpreting a prenuptial agreement with a foreign national are the Parol Evidence Rule and the Statute of Frauds. The Parol Evidence Rule holds that prior or contemporaneous negotiations and agreements that contradict, modify or vary the terms of the contract are inadmissible when the contract is intended to be a complete and final expression of the parties.
The Statute of Frauds states that promises made in consideration of marriage must be in writing.
Cross-cultural and cross-border marriages will often involve a foreign language prenuptial agreement. The document translation of a foreign language premarital agreement must be done in strict accordance to the document’s language. Since marital customs vary from culture to culture, translating prenuptial foreign language documents can become an issue when the agreement includes terms and concepts not readily translated from a foreign language into English, and from English into a foreign language.
The Parol Evidence Rule applies to foreign language document translations. Thus, the evidence available to interpret culture-specific terms is limited as it is difficult for the Court to know whether the given interpretation contradicts the document.
Further, the Statute of Frauds requires the document to be written in such a way that it states, with reasonable certainty, what the terms of the contract are. If the foreign language document’s terms are not reasonably clear through a translation, then it is likely the statute of frauds will not be satisfied and the premarital agreement will be void.
See In re Marriage of Shaban, 105 Cal.Rptr.2d 863 (Cal. App. 4 Dist. 2001)
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