Marriage contracts form one of the major areas of the Statute of Frauds. The Statute of Frauds requires that any marriage contract be in writing. The marriage contracts most often dealt with by the Statute of Frauds are prenuptial and postnuptial agreements.
The marriage contracts share all the regular requirements of any other contract. The elements of a contract most relevant to a marriage contract is that it must be genuinely assented to by the individual, and the contract cannot bear unconscionable provisions.
Although there was a historic tendency for marriage contracts to be arraigned by the family of the individuals getting married, this has become less common. Instead, the most common marriage contracts currently are for the division of the assets of the married partners. These agreements are known as prenuptial agreements if they are created before the marriage, and postnuptial agreements if they are entered into by the parties while they are married.
Although these marriage contracts are most often at issue in the event the partners become divorced, a marriage contract reached as the result of a nuptial agreement may also be created to provide for the care of beneficiaries in the event of the death of one of the partners to the marriage contract.
Pre-marriage contracts are recognized in all of the United States, as well as in the District of Columbia. The Uniform Prenuptial Agreements Act of 1983 served to unify the implementation and execution of prenuptial marriage contracts within the United States.