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Iowa Premarital and Prenuptial Agreements

The Uniform Premarital Agreement Act, which was written by the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Law in 1983, encourages the enforcement of prenuptial agreements. The exact UPAA standards differ from state to state just like other divorce laws. The following is the Iowa state statutes regarding premarital and prenuptial agreements and how they are considered and enforced by the Iowa court.

Iowa: Chapter 596.1 to 596.12

596.1 Definitions. As used in this chapter:

1. "Premarital agreement" means an agreement between prospective spouses made in contemplation of marriage and to be effective upon marriage.

2. "Property" means an interest, present or future, legal or equitable, vested or contingent, in real or personal property.

596.2 Construction and Application

This chapter shall be construed and applied to effectuate its general purpose to make uniform the law with respect to premarital agreements.

596.3 Short Title

This chapter may be cited as the "Iowa Uniform Premarital Agreement Act."

596.4 Formalities

A premarital agreement must be in writing and signed by both prospective spouses. It is enforceable without consideration other than the marriage. Both parties to the agreement shall execute all documents necessary to enforce the agreement.

596.5 Content

1) Parties to a premarital agreement may contract with respect to the following:

a) The rights and obligations of each of the parties in any of the property of either or both of them whenever and wherever acquired or located.

b) The right to buy, sell, use, transfer, exchange, abandon, lease, consume, expend, assign, create a security interest in, mortgage, encumber, dispose of, or otherwise manage and control property.

c) The disposition of property upon separation, dissolution of the marriage, death, or the occurrence or nonoccurrence of any other event.

d) The making of a will, trust, or other arrangement to carry out the provisions of the agreement.

e) The ownership rights in and disposition of the death benefit from a life insurance policy.

f) The choice of law governing the construction of the agreement.

g) Any other matter, including the personal rights and obligations of the parties, not in violation of public policy or a statute imposing a criminal penalty.

2) The right of a spouse or child to support shall not be adversely affected by a premarital agreement.

596.6 Effective Date of Agreement

A premarital agreement becomes effective upon the marriage of the parties.

596.7 Revocation

After marriage, a premarital agreement may be revoked only as follows:

1. By a written agreement signed by both spouses. The revocation is enforceable without consideration.

2. To revoke a premarital agreement without the consent of the other spouse, the person seeking revocation must prove one or more of the following:

a) The person did not execute the agreement voluntarily.

b) The agreement was unconscionable when it was executed.

c) Before the execution of the agreement the person was not provided a fair and reasonable disclosure of the property of financial obligations of the other spouse; and the person did not have, or reasonably could not have had, an adequate knowledge of the property or financial obligations of the other spouse.

596.8 Enforcement

A premarital agreement is not enforceable if the person against whom enforcement is sought proves any of the following:

1) The person did not execute the agreement voluntarily.

2) The agreement was unconscionable when it was executed.

3) Before the execution of the agreement the person was not provided a fair and reasonable disclosure of the property or financial obligations of the other spouse; and the person did not have, or reasonably could not have had, an adequate knowledge of the property or financial obligations of the other spouse.

If a provision of the agreement or the application of the provision to a party is found by the court to be unenforceable, the provision shall be severed from the remainder of the agreement and shall not affect the provisions, or application, of the agreement which can be given effect without the unenforceable provision.

596.9 Unconscionability

In any action under this chapter to revoke or enforce a premarital agreement the issue of unconscionability of a premarital agreement shall be decided by the court as a matter of law.

596.10 Enforcement-Void Marriage

If a marriage is determined to be void, an agreement that would otherwise have been a premarital agreement is enforceable only to the extent necessary to avoid an inequitable result.

596.11 Limitation of Actions

Any statute of limitations applicable to an action asserting a claim for relief under a premarital agreement is tolled during the marriage of the parties to the agreement. However, equitable defenses limiting the time for enforcement, including laches and estoppel, are available to either party.

596.12 Effective Date

This chapter takes effect on January 1, 1992, and applies to any premarital agreement executed on or after that date. This chapter does not affect the validity under Iowa law of any premarital agreement entered into prior to January 1, 1992.