NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

States Frown On "Post-Nuptial" Agreements

July 21, 1999

Virtually every state recognizes pre-nuptial agreements, which spell out who gets what in the event of a divorce. But such agreements forged and signed after a marriage don't get the same respect, although a growing number of couples are making such agreements.

  • Ohio courts don't recognize them at all -- with an appeals court there declaring that a married couple "cannot make a contract that alters their legal relations."
  • In Louisiana, a married couple must jointly petition a court to approve a post-nuptial, and the court must find that it serves their "best interests."
  • A 1994 Minnesota law allows such agreements -- but only in cases where each spouse has a net worth above $1.2 million and the couple remains married two years after signing it.
  • Even when post-nuptials are invoked in the majority of states which do accept them, judges don't have to approve the agreement's terms on child custody or child support.

Proponents of post-nuptials contend they help couples stay together by facilitating reconciliation and settling otherwise contentious issues. But some courts and lawmakers contend they are coercive to women who have more to lose once they are already married.

Source: Margaret A. Jacobs, "A Prenup? No Problem: More Couples Sign Postnups," Wall Street Journal, July 21, 1999.


Browse more articles on Government Issues