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What is the Uniform Premarital Agreement Act?

By Licia Morrow
Updated Feb 21, 2024
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In the United States of America, the lawmaking power of the federal government is often limited, thereby giving power to the individual states under the Tenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. It is often the responsibility of the U.S. Uniform Law Commission to draft laws, which are approved by a sponsor commission, that ensure consistency across state lines. The Uniform Premarital Agreement Act (UPAA) of 1983 is one of these types of acts, and was created by The National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws. Currently the UPAA has been accepted by 27 states and has been introduced, but not yet adopted, in four more.

The Uniform Premarital Agreement Act was designed to address the legal issues surrounding the state of marriage and divorce in the United States. Due to the increasing divorce rate, many couples seek to enter into legal agreements before marriage, which outline property rights and division of assets, as well as other postnuptial plans. Additionally, the UPAA seeks to put consistent legislation into place which can be consulted despite a mobile population, and many variables within the marriage contract and relationship. While it does offer a set of rules for many types of marriages and divorces, the Uniform Premarital Agreement Act was designed only for those who enter into a legal marriage agreement.

Section 1 states that the UPAA does not address, nor cover, the concerns of those living together, or any other type of relationship in which the participants do not marry. In Section 2, the Uniform Premarital Agreement Act asserts that any prenuptial agreement must be in writing and the signatures of both parties are required. Therefore, the act does not apply to the concerns of those who may have entered into a premarital oral agreement. Section 3 sets out a list of acceptable subjects for prenuptial agreements including control of property, life insurance, and spousal support.

The objective of Section 4 of the Uniform Premarital Agreement Act is to ensure that all parties understand that the premarital contract begins when the marriage begins, and Section 5 states that the prenuptial agreement may be revoked upon written consent of both parties. Section 6 illustrates situations in which the agreement cannot be enforced including questions about the voluntary status of one or more of the parties, unfair or unreasonable disclosure of property, or inadequate knowledge of property before the marriage. Section 7 deals with a marriage that has been voided, and Section 8 covers statute of limitations.

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Discussion Comments
By lovealot — On Oct 31, 2011

I think that if two people are going to get married and they have a huge difference in personal assets,it would be wise to enter into a pre nup agreement.

If the couple truly love each other, the agreement could just be done and forgotten about, allowing the money to be shared as most couples do. If a divorce comes, at least the settlement of assets will be a lot less stressful and emotionally upsetting, if they have a plan to follow.

By PinkLady4 — On Oct 30, 2011

In the first place, I'm glad that the laws on premarital agreements are under the group of laws that are consistent from one state to the next. The way families move around these days, this is important.

Things have changed a lot in recent decades. Many people come into marriage with sizable assets. Young adults are marrying later after working and saving for years. There are those who come into a second marriage with children and settlements from their first marriage.

I think a prenuptial agreement, carefully thought out, should be done in these kinds of cases. In case of divorce, in community property states, you wouldn't want to give 1/2 of your assets to an ex and not have enough to provide for your natural child's needs.

By SauteePan — On Oct 29, 2011

@Cafe41 - I have to respectfully disagree. I think that when you enter a marriage you are sharing your life with a person with the hopes that it lasts until you die. While I realize that people do get divorced, I think it is a mistake to enter a marriage on the premise that you might get divorced. Whatever happened to "Till death do us part?"

You know the most common things in the world could be bought with money. There are more important things in life than money and if money is so important to you or you wonder what a person's motive for marrying you are then maybe you are not ready to get married.

This is just like when people do get married and then they don't pool their finances together and keep separate accounts. I don't understand that. If you get married you are supposed to share your life with the person which includes your money.

I think that prenuptial agreements benefit lawyers above everyone else.

By cafe41 — On Oct 29, 2011

I think that a prenup agreement is a must if you have a lot of assets. I know that it is not romantic to think about a prenuptial agreement before you get married, but the reality is that half of the marriages end in divorce and this can make the process easier should you decide to end the marriage.

I don't think that a person that you marry and then divorce should be entitled to receive assets based on earnings that you had before you were married. I think that it is fair to assume this and I would have a problem with someone that did not want to sign one.

I would wonder what their motives were. I know that some celebrities do not get a prenuptial agreement and later live to regret it. Look at all of the trouble Kelsey Grammar is going through right now. I think that sometimes you just have to be practical.

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