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Hearts no longer aflame, but prenup holds

Was it a grand gesture on a moonlit night? That first flush of new parenthood?

We don’t really get the details in Miller v. Miller, decided yesterday by the Virginia Court of Appeals. But we do know now that just throwing a prenuptial agreement into a fire did not revoke the prenup, whatever the couple may have thought at the time.

A few months after the birth of their first child in 1988, Chester and Linda Miller agreed they no longer needed their prenup and “threw the only known copy of it into a fire,” writes Court of Appeals Judge Randolph A Beales in the unpublished opinion. After the parties separated in 2004, a copy turned up with the wife’s mother.

The wife tried this argument to escape the prenup’s property split: The agreement contained a clause that the couple could “mutually agree to its termination.” Because a Virginia statute says a prenup can cover anything the parties want that does not “violate public policy or a statute imposing a criminal penalty,” wife claimed they had revoked the agreement by casting the only known copy into the fire in 1988.

Their marriage may have gone down in flames, but the agreement didn’t.

Virginia Code § 20-153 trumped Code § 20-150(8), and the agreement could only be revoked in writing, the appellate court said.

You can burn your bridges, but not your prenup.

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