alteration

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Alteration

Modification; changing a thing without obliterating it.

An alteration is a variation made in the language or terms of a legal document that affects the rights and obligations of the parties to it. When this occurs, the alteration is material and the party who did not consent to the change can be released from his or her duties under the document by a court.

When an essential part of a writing has been cut, torn, burned, or erased, the alteration is also known as a mutilation.

The alteration of a document by someone other than a party to it is called a spoliation.

West's Encyclopedia of American Law, edition 2. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

alteration

a change that, when made in a legal document, may affect its validity. See ALTERATION OF ARTICLES, ALTERATION OF BILL OF EXCHANGE, ALTERATION OF CAPITAL.
Collins Dictionary of Law © W.J. Stewart, 2006

ALTERATION. An act done upon an instrument in writing by a party entitled under it, without the consent of the other party, by which its meaning or language is changed; it imports some fraud or design on the part of him who made it. This differs from spoliation, which is the mutilation of the instrument by the act of a stranger.
     2. When an alteration has a tendency to mislead, by so changing the character of the instrument, it renders it void; but if the change has not such tendency, it will not be considered an alteration. 1 Greenl. Ev. 566.
     3. A spoliation, on the contrary, will not affect the legal character of the instrument, so long as the original writing remains legible; and, if it be a deed, any trace of the seal remains. 1 Greenl. Ev. Sec. 566. See Spoliation.

A Law Dictionary, Adapted to the Constitution and Laws of the United States. By John Bouvier. Published 1856.