The case of the contract and the wife | Columns

Bizar Male

When Homer decided to get married, he was determined marriage wasn’t going to be like a lottery where you tear up the ticket if you lose … and get a divorce … and move on to the next marriage.

Consequently, to insure the permanency of his marriage to Gertrude, before they got married, he had his starry-eyed bride sign a contract saying she would never divorce Homer.

Unfortunately, there is “many a slip twixt the cup and the lip,” and, as far as Gertrude was concerned, the marriage for her turned out to be a matter of trails and tribulations. While Homer had been a rich man, she quickly came to the conclusion he was a poor husband who made life miserable for her … and she sued him for divorce.

“She can’t do that,” Homer insisted in court. “We entered into a binding contract that she would never divorce me and a contract is a contract!”

“A contract is a mutual agreement between two people,” responded Gertrude. “In our case, it was for Homer’s benefit. Since an individual can not predict the future success or failure of a marriage, a contract intending to do that isn’t valid. If a person could predict the future course of a marriage,” she concluded, “he would be smart enough to rule the world.”


Would you grant Gertrude a divorce?



The judge noted the granting of the divorce is strictly governed by law.

And, concluded the judge, a wife is entitled to a divorce … if her grounds warranted the granting of a divorce … regardless of whether or not she signed a contract that precluded her from seeking a divorce.

Based on a 1958 Maine Supreme Judicial Court decision.

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