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Simeone v. Simeone - 525 Pa. 392, 581 A.2d 162 (1990)

Rule:

Contracting parties are normally bound by their agreements, without regard to whether the terms thereof were read and fully understood and irrespective of whether the agreements embodied reasonable or good bargains.

Facts:

On the eve of the parties' wedding, appellant wife, without the benefit of counsel, signed a prenuptial agreement. During the parties’ divorce proceedings, appellant filed a claim for alimony pendente lite from appellee husband. A master's report upheld the validity of the prenuptial agreement, under which appellant gave up the right to alimony pendente lite, and denied appellant’s claim. The lower court dismissed appellant’s exceptions to the master's report, and the superior court affirmed the lower court’s order. The wife appealed, asserting that the agreement was not reasonable and that she had not understood the nature of alimony pendente lite when she relinquished it in the agreement. The court affirmed the superior court’s order.

Issue:

Should the parties’ prenuptial agreement be declared void on the ground that appellant wife signed it without consulting with an independent legal counsel?

Answer:

No.

Conclusion:

The terms of the prenuptial agreement should be regarded as binding, without regard to whether the terms were fully understood by appellant wife. To impose a requirement that parties entering a prenuptial agreement should obtain independent legal counsel would be contrary to traditional principles of contract law, and would constitute a paternalistic and unwarranted interference with the parties' freedom to enter contracts.

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