The Uniform Premarital Agreement
Key Points
  • The Uniform Premarital Agreement Act helps establish some consistency throughout the U.S. and also provide governing that aids in the enforcement from state-to-state.

All jurisdictions now permit prenuptial agreements. Since 1983, at least 27 states have enacted versions of the Uniform Premarital Agreement Act (UPAA), and all of the rest except Alaska have enacted statutes to permit prenuptial agreements, some of which are close to the UPAA model. The exact UPAA standards differ from state to state.

The Uniform Premarital Agreement Act, which was written by the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Law, encourages the enforcement of prenuptial agreements by spelling out the terms and conditions by which prenuptial agreements should be entered.

Prior to the 1980s, many jurisdictions did not have statues governing prenuptial agreements because they were held to be against public policy of encouraging marriage. (Some cynics said prenuptial agreements were "pre-negotiated divorces." That reasoning goes that prenuptial agreements encourage divorce because they anticipate it as a possibility.) Contemporary legal thinking recognizes that marriage is, in part at least, an economic regime even though Sam and Sally may not think about it that way.

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