Code of the District of Columbia

Chapter 5. Premarital Agreements.


§ 46–501. Definitions.

For the purposes of this chapter, the term:

(1) “Domestic partner” shall have the same meaning as provided in § 32-701(3).

(2) “Domestic partnership” shall have the same meaning as provided in § 32-701(4).

(3) “Premarital agreement” means an agreement between prospective spouses or prospective domestic partners made in contemplation of marriage or domestic partnership and to be effective upon marriage or domestic partnership.

(4) “Property” means an interest, present or future, legal or equitable, vested or contingent, in real or personal property, including income and earnings.


(Feb. 9, 1996, D.C. Law 11-82, § 2, 42 DCR 6770; Apr. 4, 2006, D.C. Law 16-79, § 8(a), 53 DCR 1035.)

Prior Codifications

1981 Ed., § 30-141.

Effect of Amendments

D.C. Law 16-79 rewrote the section.

Editor's Notes

Uniform Law: This section is based upon § 1 of the Uniform Premarital Agreement Act.


§ 46–502. Formalities.

A premarital agreement must be in writing and signed by both parties. It is enforceable without consideration.


(Feb. 9, 1996, D.C. Law 11-82, § 3, 42 DCR 6770.)

Prior Codifications

1981 Ed., § 30-142.

Editor's Notes

Uniform Law: This section is based upon § 2 of the Uniform Premarital Agreement Act.


§ 46–503. Content.

(a) Parties to a premarital agreement may contract with respect to:

(1) 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;

(2) 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;

(3) The disposition of property upon separation, marital dissolution, annulment, termination of a domestic partnership pursuant to § 32-702(d), death, or the occurrence or nonoccurrence of any other event;

(4) The modification or elimination of spousal or domestic partner support;

(5) The making of a will, trust, or other arrangement to carry out the provisions of the agreement;

(6) The ownership rights in, and disposition of, the death benefit from a life insurance policy;

(7) The choice of law governing the construction of the agreement; and

(8) Any other matter, including their personal rights and obligations, not in violation of public policy or a statute imposing a criminal penalty.

(b) The right of a child to support may not be adversely affected by a premarital agreement.


(Feb. 9, 1996, D.C. Law 11-82, § 4, 42 DCR 6770; Apr. 4, 2006, D.C. Law 16-79, § 8(b), 53 DCR 1035; Sept. 12, 2008, D.C. Law 17-231, § 40(a), 55 DCR 6758.)

Prior Codifications

1981 Ed., § 30-143.

Effect of Amendments

D.C. Law 16-79, in subsec. (a)(3), substituted “annulment, termination of a domestic partnership under § 32-702,” for “annulment,”; and in subsec. (a)(4), substituted “spousal or domestic partner support” for “spousal support”.

D.C. Law 17-231, in subsec. (a)(3), substituted “pursuant to § 32-702(d),” for “under § 32-702,”.

Editor's Notes

Uniform Law: This section is based upon § 3 of the Uniform Premarital Agreement Act.


§ 46–504. Effect of marriage or domestic partnership.

A premarital agreement becomes effective upon marriage or the registration of a domestic partnership under § 32-702.


(Feb. 9, 1996, D.C. Law 11-82, § 5, 42 DCR 6770; Apr. 4, 2006, D.C. Law 16-79, § 8(c), 53 DCR 1035.)

Prior Codifications

1981 Ed., § 30-144.

Effect of Amendments

D.C. Law 16-79 rewrote section which had read as follows: “A premarital agreement becomes effective upon marriage.”

Editor's Notes

Uniform Law: This section is based upon § 4 of the Uniform Premarital Agreement Act.


§ 46–505. Amendment; revocation.

After marriage or the registration of a domestic partnership under § 32-702, a premarital agreement may be amended or revoked only by a written agreement signed by the parties. The amended agreement or the revocation is enforceable without consideration.


(Feb. 9, 1996, D.C. Law 11-82, § 6, 42 DCR 6770; Apr. 4, 2006, D.C. Law 16-79, § 8(d), 53 DCR 1035.)

Prior Codifications

1981 Ed., § 30-145.

Effect of Amendments

D.C. Law 16-79 substituted “After marriage or the registration of a domestic partnership under § 32-702,” for “After marriage,”.

Editor's Notes

Uniform Law: This section is based upon § 5 of the Uniform Premarital Agreement Act.


§ 46–506. Enforcement.

(a) A premarital agreement is not enforceable if the party against whom enforcement is sought proves that:

(1) That party did not execute the agreement voluntarily; or

(2) The agreement was unconscionable when it was executed and, before execution of the agreement, that party:

(A) Was not provided a fair and reasonable disclosure of the property or financial obligations of the other party;

(B) Did not voluntarily and expressly waive, in writing, any right to disclosure of the property or financial obligations of the other party beyond the disclosure provided; and

(C) Did not have, or reasonably could not have had, an adequate knowledge of the property or financial obligations of the other party.

(b) If a provision of a premarital agreement modifies or eliminates spousal or domestic partner support and that modification or elimination causes one party to the agreement to be eligible for support under a program of public assistance at the time of separation, marital dissolution, or termination of a domestic partnership pursuant to § 32-702(d), a court, notwithstanding the terms of the agreement, may require the other party to provide support to the extent necessary to avoid that eligibility.

(c) An issue of unconscionability of a premarital agreement shall be decided by the court as a matter of law.


(Feb. 9, 1996, D.C. Law 11-82, § 7, 42 DCR 6770; Apr. 4, 2006, D.C. Law 16-79, § 8(e), 53 DCR 1035; Sept. 12, 2008, D.C. Law 17-231, § 40(b), 55 DCR 6758.)

Prior Codifications

1981 Ed., § 30-146.

Effect of Amendments

D.C. Law 16-79 rewrote subsec. (b) which had read as follows: “(b) If a provision of a premarital agreement modifies or eliminates spousal support and that modification or elimination causes 1 party to the agreement to be eligible for support under a program of public assistance at the time of separation or marital dissolution, a court, notwithstanding the terms of the agreement, may require the other party to provide support to the extent necessary to avoid that eligibility.”

D.C. Law 17-231, in subsec. (b), substituted “pursuant to § 32-702(d),” for “under § 32-702,”.

Editor's Notes

Uniform Law: This section is based upon § 6 of the Uniform Premarital Agreement Act.


§ 46–507. Void marriage or domestic partnership.

If a marriage or domestic partnership 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, unless the agreement expressly provides that it shall be enforceable in the event that the marriage or domestic partnership is later determined to be void.


(Feb. 9, 1996, D.C. Law 11-82, § 8, 42 DCR 6770; Apr. 4, 2006, D.C. Law 16-79, § 8(f), 53 DCR 1035.)

Prior Codifications

1981 Ed., § 30-147.

Effect of Amendments

D.C. Law 16-79, in section heading, substituted “marriage or domestic partnership” for “marriage”; and substituted “marriage or domestic partnership” for “marriage”.

Editor's Notes

Uniform Law: This section is based upon § 7 of the Uniform Premarital Agreement Act.


§ 46–508. 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 or domestic partnership of the parties to the agreement. However, equitable defenses limiting the time for enforcement, including laches and estoppel, are available to either party.


(Feb. 9, 1996, D.C. Law 11-82, § 9, 42 DCR 6770; Apr. 4, 2006, D.C. Law 16-79, § 8(g), 53 DCR 1035.)

Prior Codifications

1981 Ed., § 30-148.

Effect of Amendments

D.C. Law 16-79 substituted “marriage or domestic partnership” for “marriage”.

Editor's Notes

Uniform Law: This section is based upon § 8 of the Uniform Premarital Agreement Act.


§ 46–509. Applicability.

This chapter applies to any premarital agreement executed on or after February 9, 1996.


(Feb. 9, 1996, D.C. Law 11-82, § 10, 42 DCR 6770.)

Prior Codifications

1981 Ed., § 30-149.

Editor's Notes

Uniform Law: This section is based upon § 12 of the Uniform Premarital Agreement Act.


§ 46–510. Application and construction.

This chapter shall be applied and construed to effectuate its general purpose to make uniform the law with respect to the subject of this chapter among states enacting it.


(Feb. 9, 1996, D.C. Law 11-82, § 11, 42 DCR 6770.)

Prior Codifications

1981 Ed., § 30-150.

Editor's Notes

Uniform Law: This section is based upon § 9 of the Uniform Premarital Agreement Act.