History of Prenuptial Agreements

Posted by heritagelawoffices on Mar 5, 2018 in Blog, Family Law

You may not think it, but the first prenuptial agreement of which we have record goes back two millennia and was written with hieroglyphs! While divorce, settlements and alimony seem like modern problems– they very well could have existed hand-in-hand with the practice of lifelong commitment. Likewise prenuptial agreements have their roots in ancient civilizations, though they were not always as free and and as fair as they are now. Read on for a crash course in the history of the prenuptial agreement.

A Brief History…

  • Over 2,000 years ago: Ancient Egyptians sign their names to some of the first ever documented prenuptial agreements on papyrus scrolls.
  • Up to 1,500 years ago: Ancient Hebrew rabbis make ketubah one of the pillars of Jewish marriage — it is a traditional form of a prenuptial agreement.
  • 300 to 500 years ago: Many high-standing citizens across many nations are granted prenuptial agreements to protect their assets going into a marriage.
  • Today: Modern lawmakers have made prenuptial agreements available to everyone and they are more equitable than ever before.

What Does it All Mean?

Thanks to a polarizing social stigma, modern prenuptial agreements or “prenups” can be a sensitive topic when it comes to commitment. Young couples may be especially prone to believing that a signed prenup means you do not think the marriage will last. Thanks to the historical context above, the availability of prenuptial agreements should be celebrated!

While the existence of prenups does acknowledge that marriage is imperfect, it at least avoids feeding the often harmful myth of “happily ever after.” Free access to the protection of the law has not always been afforded to every citizen– women and people of colour may find that a prenuptial agreement is empowering and enfranchising in its own way.

Like any legal matter, a prenuptial agreement should be considered carefully and under the advice of a legal professional. Questions about an existing prenup? Concerns about entering into an agreement? Contact or visit the experts at Heritage Law today.