Prenuptial agreement

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Marry knowing that it is for love and not money. A prenuptial agreement (also known as a premarital agreement) is a legal document between a couple, freely entered into before marriage, which outlines how they intend to divide their assets and liabilities in the event of divorce or separation. It helps you to plan how you will divide your current and future wealth between you and your husband, wife or partner should you decide to divorce or separate in the future. It will also help you control your ownership of important assets such as your house, sentimental possessions and your business.
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About this prenuptial agreement

The Net Lawman prenups or premarital agreements have been written to help you to comply with the legal requirements, keeping in mind that they are legally enforceable under Irish family law.

This agreement covers a very wide range of possible outcomes and also deals with many matters to be agreed upon during your marriage.

There is extensive coverage of property, possessions, and investments.

Child arrangements are covered broadly and shortly because circumstances at divorce can be very different to those at marriage and a judge will make an order based on what he sees at the time.

This prenuptial agreement sets out how assets and liabilities will be divided if you separate permanently or if your marriage ends.

Making a plan in advance should help you avoid expensive divorce settlements, help you keep items of sentimental value such as family heirlooms or property, and help you control who inherits your wealth.

Many people consider planning for break-up unromantic shortly before a wedding or civil partnership. However, preparing a prenup emphasises that the reason for marriage is love and not money, and can give both people confidence about what will happen should the marriage fail.

This prenup template covers the following:

  • the parties’ personal details;
  • relevant dates and application of principles likely to be required by law;
  • ownership of the home now;
  • separate ownership of property and possessions;
  • many alternative arrangements for ownership of assets;
  • joint bank account;
  • sharing living expenses;
  • children arrangements and after separation;
  • property of each party remains his own;
  • dealing with family home;
  • children arrangements;
  • financial support of children;
  • financial maintenance of one of you by the other;
  • prevention of one person reducing joint wealth before separation by giving away assets;
  • dealing with the family company and/or jointly owned business;
  • capital calculation and transfer;
  • promise of confidentiality;
  • if one of you should die;
  • other legal provisions to protect your interests;
  • final statement of understanding of legal requirements.

Why use this prenuptial agreement

  • provides security during and after marriage to both people;
  • avoids future disputes over how assets should be split and what each person contributed;
  • helps speed up the divorce process and saves divorce costs;
  • helps ensure that items with sentimental value remain with the person to whom they matter most;
  • helps ensure that the people you choose (such as children from an earlier relationship) inherit your wealth;
  • prevents your wealth from being given away shortly before break-up;
  • helps protect business assets from being split and sold;
  • makes a separation less emotionally stressful by removing the need to negotiate over as many things.
  • some people ask whether they need independent legal advice. The law does not require both sides to have taken independent legal advice. Legal advice simply strengthens the argument that you both knew what you were agreeing to, when you agreed to it. Our templates are professionally written in plain English and furthermore come with complete guidance notes.

Are Prenuptial agreements legally binding?

Pre-nuptial agreements are not legally binding. However, a pre-nuptial agreement will, in normal circumstances, be taken into consideration by the Irish court provided that:

  • both people considered and understood the implications of entering into
  • the agreement; the agreement was not entered into under duress;
  • both people were honest about their wealth at the time of signing;
  • the agreement is fair.

It is important to understand that the court retains complete discretion to divide the assets in a financial divorce settlement as it likes. Whether you create your prenup yourself, or ask a solicitor or family law expert to do it for you, there is no guarantee that your wishes will be followed exactly.

Family Law Act 1995 and Family Law (Divorce) Act 1996 set out what a judge should consider when dividing assets. The principles can be applied differently, and the actual outcome will very much depend on the person judging your case. However, a well written, sensible, pre-nuptial agreement is highly likely to influence a judge's decision.

Alternative Irish family law documents

We also stock a simpler version of this document that has been written for couples who are likely to be financially independent before the marriage or partnership and for whom the concern is about ensuring that wealth and assets remain in possession of whichever one brought them in, should the marriage fail.

We expect that this alternative document will be more suitable for older couples who have already accumulated wealth, and who perhaps are marrying for a second time. See our property protection version

People living together or cohabitating can use this cohabitation agreement.

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IAN CAPPIN
28 March 2017
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