Agreements and Contracts between Spouses

In principle, spouses may enter into agreements with each other.

Under Danish law, when a marriage is contracted, spouses automatically have community of property. However, spouses can also agree on separate property. This requires that the spouses set up a prenuptial agreement.

Furthermore, subject to the restrictions of the Marriage Act, spouses can enter into legal transactions with each other regarding property that one of them owns and incur obligations towards one another. For example, spouses can buy each other's property or pledge it to each other as security and enter into leases and employment contracts.

Agreements on "mahr" are to be interpreted according to case law as a gift that requires a prenuptial agreement in order to be valid, unless it is an ordinary gift that is not disproportionate to the giver's circumstances.


Example of a ruling by the Danish Eastern High Court

A man and his wife both came from Pakistan. They were married in 1988 at an Islamic cultural centre in Denmark. According to the marriage contract, the husband had to pay DKK 25,000 in "dowry". In connection with their separation in 2001, the wife demanded that her husband be sentenced to pay the amount. It was assumed that this was Pakistan "mahr", which the husband was to pay to his wife on the occasion of their marriage and which was due for payment no later than at their divorce. The Eastern High Court found that, under Danish law, this payment should be regarded as a gift which required a prenuptial agreement in order to be valid, unless it could be considered an ordinary gift which was not disproportionate to the giver's conditions. The gift was declared invalid.