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What is the Uniform Premarital Agreement Act?

Instructor: Tisha Collins Batis

Tisha is a licensed real estate agent in Texas. She holds bachelor's in legal studies and a master's degree in criminal justice.

Premarital agreements can be controversial, as they lead some to believe their future spouse doesn't trust them. This lesson will help readers understand the intent behind the Uniform Premarital Agreement Act and view some state variations.

What is the Uniform Premarital Agreement Act?

Keenan and Jenn plan to marry soon. Before they met, Keenan had two kids and built a career, assets, and sound investments. Jenn was a nurse, and her license was suspended a month before the wedding date. Since then, Keenan has been reconsidering his plans. Jenn said that she's not going to work at any other job. Keenan doesn't want Jenn to take everything if they get divorced. He would rather his hard work benefit his kids. His friend suggested that he look into getting a premarital agreement.

When couples plan marriage, they have the option to sign a premarital agreement , which is a written contract that explains each party's rights and obligations once they get married. The Uniform Premarital Agreement Act (UPAA) was drafted in 1983 by the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws. States use this Act to determine when and how a premarital agreement should be enforced. The goal of the UPAA is to give the courts flexibility in making determinations on cases that call for a variance of the Act but at the same time give individuals that are considering signing a premarital agreement some confidence that the agreement they enter into will be enforceable.

Specifics of the Act

The UPAA is for couples planning to get married; not those who are already married or are separating.

The UPAA covers the following:

  • Each parties' rights and obligations in any property and the right to control and manage the property
  • Division of property if the parties separate, divorce, or die
  • Spousal support modification or elimination
  • Creation of a will or trust
  • Rights in or ownership of life insurance policy benefits
  • The choice of the parties in the law that is governing the agreement
  • Any other issue that doesn't violate public policy or a criminal statute

The UPAA is enforceable in these situations:

  • Each party received fair and reasonable disclosure and adequate knowledge of the financial obligations or property of the other
  • Each party must not have waived their right to disclosure of property

The UPAA isn't enforceable in these situations:

  • Each person didn't enter the agreement voluntarily
  • The agreement is unethical or unconscionable
  • The removal of spousal support in the agreement would make one party eligible for public assistance

Quickie Marriages/Annulments

Nothing in the UPAA states quickie marriages or annulments aren't covered in a premarital agreement. There's specific information in the Act stating that each party has to have reasonable time to retain an attorney. Annulments, a type of marriage dissolution, are covered in the UPAA. One example where an annulment wouldn't be covered is if a separation or dissolution is sought in the state of Minnesota within two years of the marriage.

Postnuptial Agreements

The UPAA focuses on premarital and marital agreements (or postnuptial agreements). The UPAA treats marital agreements with the same requirements and principles that it treats premarital agreements. It's important to know that some states apply different legal standards to each, including higher burdens being placed on marital agreements.

Marriage and Legalities
marriage

Examples of the UPAA

Hypothetical

Ray and Marie moved in together a few years ago. Both were divorced prior to meeting and had children from previous marriages. In addition, they accumulated significant assets individually. Each has a retirement plan, a hefty savings account, and vehicles that are paid for. For a long time, they didn't have any intention of getting married. As time progressed, they decided they wanted to get married but each wanted to protect their individual assets as well as have their children inherit their accumulated wealth when they died. For them, a premarital agreement was ideal. They each had their own attorney help them in drafting and understanding their premarital agreement.

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