antenuptial agreement

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An antenuptial agreement or a prenuptial agreement is an agreement made between parties before getting married, permitting them to individually retain certain assets during the marriage and after the marriage if divorce arises. If parties wish to keep certain assets separate from what they own together, they can agree to sign an antenuptial agreement, giving effect to such. In order for an antenuptial agreement to be legally binding, parties must follow state law and regulations. In most states, an antenuptial agreement must be in writing and signed by both parties. The agreement must also be made voluntarily

For example: 

  • Massachusetts defines an antenuptial under Part II, Title III, Chapter 209, section 25 of the General Laws of Massachusetts which states: “At any time before marriage, the parties may make a written contract providing that, after the marriage is solemnized, the whole or any designated part of the real or personal property or any right of action, of which either party may be seized or possessed at the time of the marriage, shall remain or become the property of the husband or wife, according to the terms of the contract. Such a contract may limit to the husband or wife an estate in fee or for life in the whole or any part of the property, and may designate any other lawful limitations. All such limitations shall take effect at the time of the marriage in like manner as if they had been contained in a deed conveying the property limited.”
  • West Virginia defines an antenuptial agreement under W. Va. Code S-48-1-203, which states: "Antenuptial agreement" or "prenuptial agreement" means an agreement between a man and woman before marriage, but in contemplation and generally in consideration of marriage, by which the property rights and interests of the prospective husband and wife, or both of them, are determined, or where property is secured to either or both of them, to their separate estate, or to their children or other persons. An antenuptial agreement may include provisions that define the respective property rights of the parties during the marriage, or upon the death of either or both of the parties. The agreement may provide for the disposition of marital property upon an annulment of the marriage or a divorce or separation of the parties. A prenuptial agreement is void if at the time it is made either of the parties is a minor.

See also: Premarital agreement

[Last updated in November of 2021 by the Wex Definitions Team]