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District of Columbia Prenuptial Agreements

Prenuptial agreements, also called premarital or antenuptial agreements, may not be for everybody, but there are certain people that should at least consider getting one before getting married. Those who have children from a previous relationship or where one partner has significantly more money or property than the other, are just some examples of when a prenuptial agreement may be considered.

Each state has laws that govern prenuptial agreements, although some jurisdictions -- like the District of Columbia -- have more detailed requirements than others.

What Can Be Included in a D.C. Prenup?

Some states' laws don't specify what can and can't be included in a prenuptial agreement. Other states, like the District of Columbia, have laws that address the contents of a prenuptial agreement. In D.C., a premarital agreement can include:

  • Each party's rights and obligations with respect to any property (whether owned jointly or separately);
  • The right to manage and control property;
  • How property will be divided in the event of separation, divorce, death, or any other specified event;
  • The modification or elimination of spousal or domestic support;
  • The making of a will or trust to carry out provisions of the agreement;
  • The ownership rights in death benefits from a life insurance policy; and
  • The choice of law governing the construction of the agreement.

Parties are also permitted to include any other matter, including personal rights and obligations, provided it isn't in violation of public policy or a law that imposes a criminal penalty. Of note, a child's right to support can't be adversely affected by a premarital agreement. Finally, it's important to mention that D.C.'s premarital agreement laws explicitly apply to both married couples and those in domestic partnerships.

District of Columbia Prenuptial Agreements at a Glance

It's important to remember that while reading an overview of the law is helpful, you should also look at the actual text of the statute. In the following table, you'll find both an overview of prenuptial agreement laws in D.C. as well as links to relevant statutes.

Statute(s)

District of Columbia Code, Division VIII, Title 46, Subtitle I, Chapter 5, Section 46-501, et seq. (Premarital Agreements)

Basic Requirements for Premarital Agreements

In D.C., a premarital agreement must be in writing and signed by both parties and is enforceable without consideration.

When is a Premarital Agreement Not Enforceable?

A premarital agreement isn't enforceable if the person against whom enforcement is sought proves that they didn't execute it voluntarily, OR the agreement was unconscionable when executed and before the execution of the agreement:

  • they weren't provided a fair and reasonable disclosure of the property or financial obligations of the other party;
  • didn't voluntarily and expressly waive (in writing) the right to disclosure of this information; and
  • didn't/couldn't have had adequate knowledge of this information.

Additionally, if a provision of a prenuptial agreement modifies or eliminates spousal or domestic partner support and that causes one party to be eligible for support under a public assistance program, the court can order support despite the provision.

Related Statute(s)

District of Columbia Code, Division II, Title 16, Chapter 9, Section 16-910 (Assignment and Equitable Distribution of Property)

Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

District of Columbia Prenuptial Agreements: Related Resources

For additional information and resources related to this topic, please visit the links listed below.

Speak to an Attorney to Learn More About Prenuptial Agreements in D.C.

Prenuptial agreements are legally binding contracts, which is why it's a good idea to have the help of an attorney when drafting or signing one. Contact a local family law attorney today to find out how District of Columbia prenuptial agreement laws apply to your particular situation.

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