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An Act Concerning Marriage Contracts
Approved November 17, 1855
Revised Statutes of Missouri

SECTION 1. – Any female over the age of eighteen years, and under the age of twenty-one years, shall have full power to make any marriage contract concerning any real or personal property; or any other matter, with the consent of her father, if living; but if dead, then the consent of her mother, if living; but if dead, then with the consent of her guardian; and such marriage contract, so made shall be as valid and as binding on such female and her heirs, and on all persons claiming under her, as if she had been over the age of twenty-one years at the time of executing the same. (a)


SECTION 2. – All marriage contracts whereby any estate, real or personal, in this State, is intended to be secured or conveyed to any person or persons, or whereby such estate may be affected in law or equity, shall be in writing, sealed and acknowledged by each of the contracting parties, or proved by one or more subscribing witnesses.


SECTION 3. – Such marriage contracts shall be acknowledged or proved before a court of record, or some judge, justice or clerk of a court of record, of the State in which the contract is executed; which acknowledgment or proof shall be taken and certified in the same manner as deeds of conveyance for land are or shall be required, by law, to be acknowledge or proved and certified.


SECTION 4. – When any such marriage contract shall be acknowledged or proved, it shall be recorded, with the certificate of proof or acknowledgment, in the office of the recorder of every county in which any estate in the county thereby intended to be conveyed or affected shall be situated, or may be found.


SECTION 5. – When any such marriage contract is deposited in the recorder’s office for record, it shall, as to all property affected thereby, in the county where the same is deposited, impart full notice to all persons of the contents thereof.


SECTION 6. – No such marriage contract shall be valid, or affect any property, except between the parties thereto, and such as have actual notice thereof, until it shall be deposited for record with the recorder of the county wherein such property is situated or may be found. (b)


SECTION 7. – Such marriage contracts, duly proved or acknowledged, certified and recorded, shall be received in evidence in any court of this State, without further proof of their execution.


SECTION 8. – When it shall appear to the court that such marriage contract, duly acknowledged or proved, and recorded, is lost, or is not in the power of the party wishing to use it, a copy thereof, duly certified under the hand and seal of the recorder, may be received in evidence.


(a) Green v. Spencer, 3 Mo. Rep., 225. On the death of his wife, the legal estate continues in the trustee, for the use of the personal representatives of the wife, who are to be determined by the statute of descents. Pratt v. Wright, 5 Mo. Rep., 192. Vide. McNair v. Dodge, 7 Mo. Rep., 404; Childress & Mullanphy v. Cutter, 16 Mo. Rep., 24. By the marriage contract, the slaves were conveyed to a trustee for the sole use of the wife, with power to dispose of the same, by will, at her decease. Held, This is a conveyance of an absolute estate to the wife’s trustee, and not merely an estate during her life. At her death, the slaves do not go to her husband, but to her next of kin, under the statute of descents. 17 Mo. Rep., 43; Logan v. Logan, 19 Mo. Rep., 465. A liberal construction will be indulged in support of ante-nuptial settlements made as a substitute for dower. Logan v. Phillips, 18 Mo. Rep., 22. Vide, Wilkinson v. The American Iron Mountain Company, 20 Mo. Rep. 122.

(b) A marriage contract is binding between the parties thereto, although not acknowledged or proved, or recorded. Logan v. Phillips, 18 Mo. Rep., 22; Wilkinson v. Rozier, 19 Mo. Rep., 443.