In Switzerland, the term marital agreement refers to a notarized financial contract signed by both parties in a marriage. This agreement specifies which assets and liabilities are categorized as joint estate and which assets are categorized as separate estate.
A marital agreement can be drafted and signed either ahead of or during marriage. This differentiates it from a prenuptial agreement, which is always drafted and signed ahead of marriage.
Marital agreements are primarily used to avoid conflicts in the event of divorce. However, they can serve many purposes including asset protection, tax optimization and estate planning. For example, by creating a marital agreement, a family can protect assets from seizure by creditors. A family member planning on taking on debt can relieve their spouse of liability for the debt by creating a marital agreement.