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What Is a Marriage Contract?

Some couples agree to a prenuptial contract before they marry.
Marriage contracts can be used to legally designate who gets what property or assets in the event the marriage comes to an end.
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  • Written By: N. Madison
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 25 July 2014
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A marriage contract is a legal agreement between two people who are planning to get married. Often, a marriage contract is used in determining which spouse will retain property and other assets in the event that the marriage ends. This is not always the case, however. Some marriage contracts also include the commitment the spouses in a marriage make to each other and conditions of the marriage. Sometimes these contracts also cover the details of how children who were born before the marriage will be cared for in the event that the marriage ends.

A prenuptial agreement is one type of marriage contract a person may sign. This contract is intended to determine how a couple will handle finances and property in the event of a divorce. For example, this type of contract may dictate that one spouse will retain the marital home and the other will maintain ownership of vacation property. It may also dictate such things as the amount of a money a person will receive when leaving the marriage.

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Sometimes marriage contracts don’t set the terms for how financial matters will be handled in a divorce. Religious marriage contracts often detail a couple's commitment to each other. For example, in a Jewish marriage contract, referred to as a ketubah, a husband usually promises to work and provide for his wife. This contract often dictates that he will honor her as well. Unlike a prenuptial agreement, this type of marriage contract typically reveals the moral and religious commitment a man makes to his wife in addition to the financial commitment.

A covenant marriage statement is another type of agreement that is not focused on financial matters. This type of agreement stipulates that a marriage under God is a relationship that lasts for a lifetime. Via this type of agreement, spouses usually vow that they will love each other unconditionally and remain faithful to each other. This type of agreement is Christian based.

An Islamic marriage contract is used to indicate a couple’s consent to the marriage as well as the legal and social responsibility the spouses will have to each other. The contract usually spells out the details of a gift the bride will receive from the groom, which will become her sole property. The contract may also include terms that govern where the couple will live and whether the wife may work or seek additional education. Some may even contain stipulations for such things as visitation with either spouse’s parents or other family members.

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Discuss this Article

pleonasm
Post 3

@Mor - Marriage is already such a flexible term. The way they mean it in a Christian marriage and the way they mean it in a secular marriage might be completely different.

Personally, I think people should just be left alone to do what it is they want to do, with minimal interference from the government, telling them who they can and can't marry. As long as everyone in the contract can consent, then I don't see what the problem is.

Mor
Post 2

@croydon - Well, if that's all that you want, then campaign for a different kind of contract. Why do you need to use the term marriage, which is supposed to be a state where two people are in love with each other and procreating together? The trouble is, if you allow anyone to sign contracts where they give custody of their children away, you'll end up with kids in bad situations.

croydon
Post 1

The thing is, to me, marriage is basically just a legal contract, when you get down to the bare bones of it. It's a decision to make a particular person into part of your family, giving them all the rights that close, blood kin have under the law, like being able to share custody of children and being able to visit in hospital rooms and so forth.

That's why the whole gay marriage thing annoys me. Because I'm not gay, but maybe one day I'll want to marry my best friend. Maybe I'll be in a position where I need a legal guardian I can trust, or maybe we'll both be single and want another person to raise kids with.

Why shouldn't I be able to do that? I just don't see why people can't understand that it is just a legal contact, not a religious one.

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