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Sworn Statements from Husband and Wife that they Executed a Premarital Agreement Sufficed as an “Acknowledgment” of a Marriage Contract as Required under the Civil Code

About fifteen minutes before Husband and Wife married, they signed a premarital agreement prepared by Husband’s lawyer.    

The premarital agreement’s effect was to make all property then owned by either party, and all property thereafter acquired, the separate property of the party then owning or thereafter acquiring that property.

Husband and Wife sought a divorce.  The divorce court determined the premarital agreement was valid, and Wife’s divorce lawyer appealed, arguing the premarital agreement was void because it was not acknowledged and because the premarital agreement was obtained by fraud and undue influence.  Without delving into the divorce court’s factual analysis, the Appellate Court agreed with Husband’s divorce lawyer and affirmed the divorce court’s ruling that the premarital agreement was entered into freely and voluntarily.

The Appellate Court focused on whether the premarital agreement, although otherwise valid, was void because it was not acknowledged.  The Court concluded that it was not void for that reason.

Here, both parties swore that they had executed the agreement – Husband before a notary in his deposition and Wife in oral testimony.  These oaths constituted the “acknowledgement or proof” that Civil Code Section 5134 requires.

In re Marriage of Cleveland (1977) 76 Cal. App. 3d 357