Embrace the Monotony of Boilerplate Legalese in Prenups

New York Law Journal, May 8, 2023 ●

Alan R. Feigenbaum ●

In The Pale King, the novelist David Foster Wallace wrote the following: “To be, in a word, unborable…It is the key to modern life. If you are immune to boredom, there is literally nothing you cannot accomplish.”

As a matrimonial lawyer, nowhere does this wisdom apply more than in the context of reading and reviewing the “boilerplate” provisions in the separation, prenuptial, postnuptial and other agreements that we regularly draft as part of our practice.

Indeed, there is potentially enormous value in establishing a Teflon-like immunity to the understandable boredom that can come with reviewing boilerplate legal language in matrimonial agreements.

A recent decision of the Surrogate’s Court, Kings County, presents an excellent example of how boilerplate legal language can, in some instances, prove more important than the substantive provisions themselves.

Stated differently, the substantive provisions—while instinctively more interesting and engaging to draft, analyze, etc.—can interplay with the boilerplate provisions to such an extent that without intact boilerplate provisions, the substantive provisions may be at risk of dying on the vine.

With that in mind, in Estate of Kevelson (Surrogate’s Court, Kings County, NYLJ, March 8, 2023), Judge Rosemarie Montalbano adjudicated a motion in limine filed by Terri Kevelson nee Bienfeld to preclude admission of a prenuptial agreement from 1992 between her and Stephen Kevelson (deceased) prior to their marriage. The motion was filed in the context of a hearing to determine the validity of the prenuptial agreement.

Read more on our website.