Uniform Premarital and Marital Agreements Act

What is the Uniform Prenuptial and Marital Agreements Act?

Passed by 26 states, Uniform Prenuptial and Matrimonial Agreements Actdrafted by the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws in 1983helped to make contracts signed by two parties who were getting married consistent. The law allows the parties to a prenuptial agreement to choose which state marital law laws will cover the agreement.

Key points to remember

  • The Uniform Prenuptial and Marital Agreements Act is a multi-state law enacted to determine when and how prenuptial agreements are to be enforced.
  • The law allows parties to a prenup to choose which state marriage laws apply, in terms of things like property division and spousal support.
  • The law is only enforceable if all parties to a prenuptial agreement enter voluntarily and if removing spousal support would not make the other party dependent on government assistance.

Understanding the Uniform Prenuptial and Marital Agreements Act

The Uniform Prenuptial and Marital Agreements Act states that the parties should be free to create financial terms to which they both agree, with certain limitations. It mandates a review of minimum standards of fairness by the state depending on the circumstances at the time of the agreement. After the review, a state can refuse to enforce an agreement that puts a party at financial risk. The law also addresses burden of proof and establishes when rights in the event of divorce or death may be waived or modified.

The purpose of the law is to give the courts the ability to decide family law cases and to give people who are considering signing a prenuptial agreement some confidence that the agreement they enter into will be enforceable and how it will be enforced.

The law focuses on prenuptial and matrimonial agreements (or postnuptial agreements). It treats postnuptial agreements with the same requirements and principles that it treats prenuptial agreements. It’s important to know that some states apply different legal standards to everyone, including higher burdens placed on postnuptial agreements.

Marriage Contracts and the Uniform Prenuptial and Matrimonial Agreements Act

Most of the time, prenuptial agreements divide property, spousal support and child custody in the event of a divorce. They may also include provisions relating to the confiscation of assets in cases of adultery. Prenuptial agreements are usually requested by the party who stands to lose the most money or property in the event of a divorce, especially in states that enforce community property law.—Each spouse is entitled to half of everything acquired during the marriage.

A couple can choose any state in which one of the parties lives or plans to live or the state in which the couple will be married to enforce a prenuptial agreement. Since this law has not been adopted in all states, parties to a prenuptial agreement are also limited to choosing only those states that have adopted the Uniform Law of Prenuptial and Marital Agreements.

The main benefit of choosing to bring a prenuptial agreement under the jurisdiction of a state that has enacted the Uniform Prenuptial and Marital Agreement Act is that many of those states have comprehensive provisions and laws to address the issues associated with prenuptial agreements, such as estate planning, property division, alimony, financial assets and custody. In other states, decisions on various situations may be less stable due to the fact that some states base their decisions on case law.