Chapter 25. Marriage Contracts

What consideration does each party give and recieve?

Benefits or rights:

  • right to support
  • right of inheritance
  • right of property
  • right of compensation
  • right to joint tax returns

Detriments or duties:

  • duty of faithfulness to your spouse

II. Written agreements in marriage contract

Prenuptial or Antenuptial agreements are agreements made by two spouses outlining conditions of the marriage regarding property or any intangible item of wealth. Items include:

  • rights to buy,sell,manage, and control real and personal property
  • the certain of a will
  • ownership and benefits of life insurance policies
  • rights and obligation of the parties to any property owned individually or by both
  • the depostion of real and personal property upon seperation, divorce, or death
  • the change or elimination of support

II. Marriage Formalities/Restrictions

Age requirements: common law stated that the “age of consent” for a male was 14 and a girl 12. Anyone under 7 was not allowed to marry. These contracts would be considered void.

Modern Law: The 26th amendment enacted in 1971 allowed individuals to marry without consent at the age of 18 (male and female).

Common- Law Marraiges allowed legal marriages without a ceremony/license. Only 13 states recognize these marriages as legal and not contrary to public policy.

  • Parties must agree, by words in the present tense, that they are husband and wife.
  • The parties must cohabit
  • Parties must hold themselves out to the world as husband and wife


  • Ceremonial marriage- marriages must be solemnized by a religious or state authority.
  • Marriage License- under the uniform marriage and divorce act licenses must be applied for in order to legalize a marriage.
  • Waiting Period- in order to give time to anyone who opposes the marraige a waiting period exists after the maraige license is submitted. It varies from 24 hours to 7 days. Formally known as wedding banns.
  • Blood Test/Physical Exam: in order to prevent the spreading of disease, some states require blood testing as part of a license.

Marriage Requirements

  • Proxy Marriage- anyone able to attend the solemnization of his/her marriage can appoint another individual to represent him
  • Use of Maiden Name- only based on tradition, wife may choose to keep her maiden name or take on her spouses name.

III. Prohibited Marriages

Consanguinity: related my blood. Mother & Father, Grandmother & Grandfather, Daughter & Son, Grandson & Daughter, Aunt & Uncle, Brother & Sister, Niece & Nephew.

Affinity: related through marriage. Stepmother & Stepfather, Stepgrandmother & Stepgrandfather, Mother & Father-in-law, Stepson & Daughter, Daughter & Son-in-law. `

Prohibited Marriages

  • Bigamy
  • Polygampy

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