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Prince v. Prince

Prenuptial Agreements

Popularly known as prenuptial agreements or "prenups", in legal circles they are known as premarital agreements. Whatever the name, these are contracts between two people made prior to marriage, with the idea in mind that the union could end in divorce. Prenuptials, which provide for the distribution of property and other interests in the event of a marital breakup, are the only form of contract to address issues such as child custody.

Though the concept of prenuptials may seem modern, they in fact have a long history. Among Jews since the time of Christ, there has been a form of premarital contract called a ketubah, whose purpose has been generally to protect the property of the prospective bride. This was also the case in English common-law prenuptial agreements of the 1500s, which became the model for the modern American version. Because women had an inferior status in society, and were placed at an economic disadvantage with regard to their prospective husbands, a prenuptial was considered essential to protect the rights of a wealthy woman.

Every U.S. state has laws governing prenuptial agreements. Most of these are based on the model Uniform Premarital Agreement Act developed by the Commissioners on Uniform State Laws.

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Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationNotable Trials and Court Cases - 1833 to 1882Prince v. Prince - A Step Up, An Informal Marriage, The Court Investigates, Prenuptial Agreements