What is A Pre-nuptial Agreement

A Pre-Nuptial agreement is an agreement made by a couple before they marry. The agreement sets out their intentions about what happens to their respective assets, should the marriage fail.

Pre-nups don’t have the same legal status in Ireland as they do in some other countries. This means they are not recognised as being fully enforceable or binding. However, courts can consider a pre-existing agreement which sets out the terms of a separation such as a Pre-Nuptial Agreement.

The court will certain view the pre-nup as an important factor in the couple’s marriage. For example, the agreement shows what the couple wanted to happen if their relationship broke down. It also shows that the issues received weighty consideration.

A pre-nuptial agreement can even alter the outcome of separation or divorce proceedings. This does depend, however, on the circumstances of your case at the time of Separation or Divorce.

Why Would I need a Pre-nuptial Agreement?

We tend to associate pre-nups with high profile power couples. But pre-nups are not the sole preserve of celebrities. There are many practical reasons why you may consider drawing one up before you marry, such as:

  • You own a family farm, and you want it to stay in the family
  • Perhaps this is your second marriage and you want to protect your assets for your existing children.
  • You own a long-established business or Company
  • Either of you own a family business, which may have been established and grown for more than one generation, and you may have other extended family members involved.
  • You are wealthy and accumulated your wealth prior to the marriage. This is often the case with couples who marry later in life.

Do Irish Courts Recognise A Pre-nuptial Agreement?

The Courts will look at the issue of ‘intention’ behind the agreement i.e. what you and your spouse were aiming to achieve at the time you signed the pre-nuptial agreement. They may then use some or all of the pre-nup as a guide in dividing assets on Divorce. The weight given to the pre-nup will depend on whether it was signed with the ‘benefit of full disclosure’. Put simply, that both of you knew the full picture about the finances, and that you both obtained independent legal advice.

Most importantly, however, the court will also be heavily influenced by the situation you are both in at the time of Divorce. For example, are there children now? Is one of you suffering ill health? The issue of dependent children or spouses is a critical one.

Obtaining pre-nuptial advice prior to your marriage, or indeed even prior to becoming engaged, is highly recommended. This advice will fully inform you about the potential consequences of future marital breakdown, and the rights and entitlements of any future child or children.

If you need advice or support on pre-nuptial agreements, please call Alan Finnerty on 01 637 6200. Or you can email him at alan.finnerty@orpenfranks.ie

From our Blog: Pre-nuptial Agreements in Ireland

You don’t have to be a celebrity to think about pre-nuptial agreements before you get married.  Although we generally tend to associate pre-nups with the super-rich and famous there are lots of reasons why more ‘ordinary folk’ might think of asking their fiancé to enter into one.  So what are they?

  • If you are the owner of a family farm,
  • Perhaps you are the owner of a long-established business – particularly a family business
  • Or if you are just plain wealthy….

Read more here…

What happens to a Family Business when Couples Divorce?

Many couples come into a relationship bringing with them an already established family business. Others may choose to establish a new family business and company during the relationship. Sometimes they may set up a family business as a joint enterprise. Read more here

Useful Links

Citizens Information: Pre-nuptial Agreements – Click here

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