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Amelia Earhart's 'prenuptial agreement'

Prenuptial agreements are considered to be a fairly modern phenomenon. However, famed aviator Amelia Earhart, a woman ahead of her time in many ways, wrote her own version of a prenup more than 85 years ago.

Earhart's attempt to be the first woman to fly around the world ended when she and her navigator disappeared somewhere over the Pacific 80 years ago this month. A recently-discovered photo, however, indicates that the two may have survived a crash and ended up in the Marshall Islands, perhaps becoming prisoners of the Japanese military, even though she was declared to be dead in 1939.

A typewritten letter from 1931 has also been found from Earhart to her then-fiance, George Putnam, who was an author, publisher and fellow explorer. (The two married that year.)

The prenup of sorts doesn't address assets, debts, alimony or division of property. Instead, Earhart expresses concern about what impact getting married will have on both of their lives and ambitions. She also suggests what today would be called an "open marriage."

Earhart expresses her "reluctance to marry" and calls the decision to wed "as foolish as anything I could do." She says to Putnam, "Please let us not interfere with the others' work or play, nor let the world see our private joys or disagreements." She asks that they not hold each other to a "midaevil [sic] code of faithfulness." She also asks to "keep some place where I can go to be myself now and then" and says that she "cannot guarantee to endure at all times the confinement of even an attractive cage."

Today's prenups are much more detailed and usually focus on the financial aspects of the marriage and how things will be divided in a divorce. However, in discussing a prenup, couples can also share their expectations for their marriage, even if they aren't all codified in the document.

Source: MarketWatch, "Contemplating Amelia Earhart’s daring marriage prenup 80 years after fateful flight," Rachel Koning Beals, July 05, 2017

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