Family Law Update – Marriage Contract

Acurio v. Acurio, 50,709 (La. app. 2 Cir. 6/22/16), 197 So.3d 253, rev’d, 16-1395 (La. 5/3/17), 224 So.3d 935.

The trial court ruled that the parties’ prenuptial marriage contract establishing a separation of property regime could not be introduced at the time of the property partition because it was not an authentic act and, although an act under private signature, was not duly acknowledged prior to the marriage.

The Second Circuit reversed the trial court, holding that the acknowledgment had no statutory time requirement and was not required to occur before the marriage.  The court stated that the “purpose of the acknowledgment is simply for the parties to recognize the signatures as their own.”  In essence, the contract is effective upon the parties’ signatures, and the need for acknowledgment arises only if a challenge is made to the validity of the signatures.  Moreover, the parties had subsequently acquired immovable property in which they had acknowledged the existence of the separate property regime.

The Louisiana Supreme Court reversed, finding that the acknowledgement was a form requirement and had to occur before the marriage.  Two justices dissented.

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