Andrew Rubin, Esq.

Actor says lawyer had him sign prenup before reading it

New Jersey residents might remember the actor Tom Berenger from his roles in "Platoon" and "Major League." These days, the actor is playing a real life role in a courtroom drama about a man who believes his lawyer misguided him into signing an unfavorable prenuptial agreement.

The actor has said that his lawyer cost him upwards of $100,000 when he advised him to sign a prenuptial agreement without even reading it first. He has now filed a lawsuit against the lawyer, accusing him of legal malpractice.

A prenuptial agreement, of course, is a legal contract that two people enter into prior to marriage. It is a way to detail each person's assets and liabilities going into the marriage and it can also include information about how joint assets will be divided in the event of divorce. In some cases, prenuptial agreements can be modified after they have been signed, by way of a legally documented amendment.

Because a prenuptial agreement is a legal contract, it is important that each party who signs it has read it and understands all of the implications of the contract. This is one of the reasons why couples draft prenuptial agreements with lawyers instead of on their own.

In Berenger's case, he says that he hired a lawyer in 2005 after his wife proposed an amendment to their existing prenuptial agreement. Berenger now says that his lawyer told him to sign the amendment without telling him the purpose of it.

He now knows that the amendment entitled his wife to some of his earnings that she had waived in an earlier version of the prenuptial agreement.

When the couple divorced in 2011, this presumably lost him a lot of money.

The lawyer has not responded to the legal malpractice suit. When lawyers fail to act competently, it is possible for their clients to seek legal recourse.

Source: Charlotte Observer, "Actor Tom Berenger suing Beaufort attorney," June 16, 2012

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