Protect Your Love: 5 Tips For Marriage Contract

Updated October 27, 2023
14 min read
Protect Your Love: 5 Tips For Marriage Contract


The importance of protecting your marriage legally cannot be overstated. Married life may seem blissful and carefree, but it is essential to think ahead and ensure that your rights and assets remain secure in case of divorce or death. 

One thing to do during the wedding planning phase is to create a marriage contract (also known as a marital contract). Drawing up a marriage contract can be a daunting process. Both parties should understand the implications and ensure their rights and obligations are clearly stated in the agreement. 

What Is a Marriage Contract?

Marriage contracts — especially prenuptial agreements that spouses enter before marriage — are standard in the U.S. These marriage agreements help to ensure that both partners are on the same page when it comes to the division of assets and obligations and that both spouses have the information necessary to handle certain surprises that may arise.

"A marriage contract is a vital way to protect yourself in marriage, as it ensures that your property and assets remain secure during the marriage or in the event of divorce or death."

Karyna Pukaniuk
Head of Legal at Lawrina

Such marriage contracts may state how property and assets acquired during the marriage should be divided if the couple divorces. These assets include real estate, bank accounts, stocks, bonds, and other investments. Marital contracts may also say who will be responsible for any debts from the marriage, such as mortgages and credit cards.

"If one spouse has pre-marital debts, those obligations can be clearly stated in the marriage agreement to protect the other spouse from liability."

Karyna Pukaniuk
Head of Legal at Lawrina

If either party has a child from a previous marriage, the agreement should include specific provisions to protect the child’s rights. This is especially important if the child is a minor or has special needs. Such provisions may include but are not limited to:

  • Stipulations related to custody;

  • Visitation rights; and

  • Financial support.

Ensuring that the child’s rights are taken into account and that the agreement is fair to all parties is essential. Marriage contracts may also cover such issues as:

  • Division of tax liability between the parties;

  • Legal consequences for the surviving spouse in case of the death of one spouse; and

  • The amount of interest of each party in the increased value of any owned real estate.

Types of Marriage Contracts

Marriage contracts can be custom-made to the couple’s needs and special requirements, ensuring that the agreement reflects their joint wishes and desires. These agreements come in many forms, including: 

  1. Prenuptial agreements: This type of contract is created before a couple is wed and includes the details of how the parties will handle property, assets, debts, children, and more in the event of a divorce. 

  2. Postnuptial agreements: This type of contract is created after a couple has been legally married. Like a prenuptial agreement, this contract specifies how the parties will manage property, assets, and more in the event of a divorce. Consider using a postnuptial agreement template to get the most out of this agreement.

  3. Marital settlement agreements: This type of agreement is usually created by spouses who want to get a divorce and want to agree on the peculiarities of handling property and assets, child care issues, and other arrangements without involving the court.

  4. Separation agreements: This agreement is an arrangement for the separate living of spouses who do not want to get a divorce. The spouses describe how they will handle common issues like child support and custody, spousal maintenance, and property management during the separation.

Marriage contracts can be tailored to the couple’s needs and any special requirements. This means the couple can draft an agreement reflecting their joint wishes and desires, providing a solid foundation to build a successful and long-lasting relationship.

5 Tips for a Perfect Marriage Contract

One could write a book on tips and pitfalls of marriage contracts. However, the following five tips for creating a legal marriage contract are the most essential points to consider when drafting an agreement.

Study state law

Before drafting a marital agreement, learn about your state’s legislative requirements for a prenuptial agreement. Generally, each state has its own set of conditions for such agreements to be considered valid and enforceable.

"In some jurisdictions, a marriage contract should be attested by at least two witnesses, one of whom must be a notary public."

Karyna Pukaniuk
Head of Legal at Lawrina

Some states may require that both parties have independent legal representation. Other states may require that both parties disclose their financial information before signing the agreement. And other states may also have specific stipulations concerning child support, alimony, and other matters.

"In certain states, it is the legislative requirement for each spouse to turn to a separate lawyer to have "independent legal advice.""

Karyna Pukaniuk
Head of Legal at Lawrina

Cover the main points

When crafting a prenuptial agreement (marriage contract), it is wise to take into account a range of issues that can include:

  • Legal ramifications for the surviving spouse in the event of the death of the other spouse;

  • Management of property and assets in a marriage and in case of divorce;

  • Control of finances, bank accounts, and expenses;

  • Division of tax liability between the parties; and

  • Liability of each party for debts, if any.

"It is important to consider a dispute resolution clause to provide a structured and organized manner to handle any disagreements that may arise in the marriage."

Karyna Pukaniuk
Head of Legal at Lawrina

Taking the time to consider all of these issues before marriage can help to ensure that both parties are adequately protected in the event of a divorce.

Agree on amendments

A prenuptial agreement isn’t set in stone and can be modified during the marriage. The couple can review and revise their marital contract (prenup) when life changes affect the validity of specific clauses.

"Common reasons for amending a marriage contract might be major family changes, namely financial issues or the birth of children."

Karyna Pukaniuk
Head of Legal at Lawrina

If the current version of an agreement states that all property is divided equally between spouses in the event of divorce, but one spouse inherits property, the couple may want to amend the prenuptial agreement. In a revised version of the contract, the property can be designated as separate, meaning that it will remain with the spouse throughout the marriage and in the event of a divorce.

When amending a prenuptial agreement, it is up to both parties to decide whether to make changes. Therefore, both parties must agree to any modifications.

Have that “uncomfortable conversation”

One of the biggest mistakes made by those who want to create a prenuptial (marriage) agreement is failing to have the necessary, albeit uncomfortable, conversations with the other party before they draft the agreement. Such negligence may lead to missing essential provisions in your prenuptial agreement. 

When creating a marriage contract, it is essential to consider every detail carefully. Take into account all the potential scenarios that could arise during your marriage and include provisions for them in the agreement. Taking the time to go through each clause and ensure its accuracy will help both parties better understand this legally binding agreement.

Seek legal advice

If you and your spouse want to create a marriage contract, consider consulting with a qualified family law attorney. A lawyer may use a marriage contract template and customize it to your unique requirements. This helps to ensure that the agreement is legally binding and adheres to the laws of your state.

"Make a draft of the marriage contract together, and then show the document to a family law attorney in your local area who can review and amend the document as needed."

Karyna Pukaniuk
Head of Legal at Lawrina

Working with an attorney can help to provide a greater degree of certainty that both parties understand and accept the terms of the marital agreement.

How To Write a Marriage Contract

Logically, the first thing to do when you want to get a marriage agreement is to talk to your partner. Do they mind signing a marriage contract? Do they have any concerns about it? What exactly would they like to include in such a document, and do they accept your wishes?

Also, we would advise you to study this topic on your own (or consult a specialist) before talking to your partner. This way, you can see what people usually add to their marriage contracts and how to correctly include needed clauses in the prenup, a common practice that you may not have even thought about, such as division of property, support for marital life, and division of debts.

Be as open and honest as possible in this conversation and, possibly, show your partner a sample of such a marriage contract (you can even show them a template) so that your spouse understands what you mean and what you are talking about looks like in practice.

Then, when both you and your partner agree that you will enter into such a marriage contract, find a lawyer to help you create the document. Since this process can be stressful and complicated, consider using a pre-made template — you won’t be pressured by time and the presence of a third party when drafting a marriage agreement, and you can calmly write down all the points together in the comfort of your own home.

Be as straightforward as possible when writing down the contract terms, and don’t forget to include a provision for updating the contract if you want to change the marital agreement in the future.

Make a copy of the document for each partner, and that’s it — you have a toolkit that can protect you from many of life’s problems.

Top 4 Mistakes To Avoid with a Marriage Contract

In general, there are many pitfalls when we draft prenuptial agreements. Therefore, before signing any marriage contract, you must clearly understand all the points that need to be controlled and checked several times to ensure that the document is legal and works the way you want it to.

Let’s talk about some of the most common mistakes people make when creating marriage contacts:

  1. Create a marriage contract after marriage. Yes, it is legal and possible, but consider that a prenuptial agreement is just one of the things you need to do to prepare for marriage.

  2. Don’t disclose all assets. A marriage contract should be built on honesty — just like a marriage. So, a prenup is valid when both partners are honest and transparent about their assets.

  3. Mix non-financial and financial terms. The marriage contract should not include details related to child custody or any non-financial point. There are other contracts for this purpose.

  4. Forget about updating the marriage contract. Even the best prenuptial agreement needs to be refreshed from time to time, given a second look, and amended if the situation in the family changes.

These are the four main mistakes people make when preparing a prenuptial agreement. In fact, with a ready-made template or expert advice, many of these problems disappear by themselves. Over time, there is only one risk — forgetting to update the contract when circumstances require it.


Creating a marriage (or marital) contract is a big step many couples skip. It is vital for spouses to understand the marriage agreement to ensure their rights and obligations are clear. 

One way to create a legally binding contract is to consult a family law attorney. To find a competent family lawyer in your state, visit Lawrina to find an experienced attorney who can help protect your future family.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a prenup? What is the difference between a marriage contract and a prenuptial agreement?

A prenup is a type of marriage contract (also known as a marital agreement). It is also referred to as a prenuptial agreement or antenuptial agreement. A prenuptial agreement is one of the most common marriage contracts, one which spouses enter into before marriage. Other marriage contracts are postnuptial, marital settlement, and separation agreements.


How long does a marriage contract last?

The duration of a marriage contract may vary depending on its type. Generally, such marriage agreements last until divorce or the death of one of the spouses. 


The marital settlement agreement is usually entered into when spouses intend to end the marriage and is generally a part of the divorce decree. 


A separation agreement can be created when spouses agree to live separately, and its duration may depend on the terms of the agreement.


What happens if I get divorced and don’t have a marriage contract?

If you do not have a marriage contract, the court will use the laws of your state to determine how to divide your assets and debts. If you get divorced without a marriage contract and cannot agree during the divorce, the court will decide the division of property and assets obtained during the marriage. 


In most cases, the court will divide the property equitably between the spouses. The court generally considers the circumstances of the marriage and the spouses when determining property division. Also considered are each spouse’s contributions, the length of the marriage, and each spouse’s income.


Creating a marital agreement is always better than hoping for the best when the divorce case reaches the court.


How long after marriage can you get a postnuptial agreement?

Creating a marriage agreement is not the most romantic thing a couple can do, but it is an important decision. There is no strict law saying when exactly you need to get a prenup.


Consider creating a marital agreement before the wedding or during the first life as a husband and wife. Also, some states have laws that may impact the enforceability of a postnuptial agreement depending on how much time has passed since the marriage.