A pre-nuptial agreement is essentially an agreement made between a couple before marriage which sets out how both parties wish for their assets to be divided in the event of a marriage breakdown. A pre-nuptial Agreement can be a useful tool to ensure financial security and avoid complicated litigation to resolve conflict in relation to financial disputes upon the breakdown of a marriage.
Why You Should Consider a Pre-Nuptial Agreement
It is perhaps not the most romantic gesture prior to your wedding day, nonetheless, it is important to be pragmatic and consider that if your marriage breaks down your assets will be vulnerable without a pre-nuptial agreement. It is also possible to make a post-nuptial agreement, which essentially has the same effect as a pre-nuptial agreement. However, it can be more difficult to come to an amicable agreement when a relationship has broken down.
What should be included in a prenuptial agreement?
Prenuptial agreements are established to safeguard a variety of assets, with customization to suit your and your partner's specific requirements. Typically, they include an inventory of your assets, outlining how these assets should be managed during your marriage and how they should be divided if the relationship ends. Any assets you wish to remain separate and not subject to division in the event of a future divorce should be explicitly covered in the prenuptial agreement.
The agreement will generally include:
Savings held in bank accounts
Property held in your sole name or joint names
To start creating a prenuptial agreement, compile a comprehensive list of all your assets, both sole and shared, and determine how they should be handled in the event of divorce. When executing a prenuptial agreement, you can establish the outcome, including asset retention by one partner, asset division, and the portion each partner will receive. Such an agreement can potentially prevent automatic asset sharing with your partner in any divorce settlement.
What cannot be included in a prenuptial agreement?
Certain elements cannot be incorporated into a prenuptial agreement, as they must adhere to legal regulations. It's crucial to verify these restrictions before inclusion, as they could potentially nullify your prenuptial agreement. Some of the aspect’s ineligible for inclusion in a prenuptial contract encompass:
Alteration of child support payment conditions, as these are the child's entitlement and not subject to the parents' agreement.
Matters concerning child custody, which should be determined by the court if in dispute.
Specifications regarding the daily responsibilities or obligations of either spouse.
Are prenuptial agreements legally binding in the Northern Ireland?
In UK law, a prenuptial agreement is not automatically legally binding, but it will be upheld by a court if it fulfils the qualifying criteria established by the Supreme Court and further reviewed by the Law Commission:
The agreement must be entered into freely.
Both parties must possess an understanding of the agreement’s implications.
The agreement must be fair.
The agreement must be contractually valid.
The agreement should have been executed at least 28 days before the wedding.
Full disclosure about the broader financial circumstances should be provided.
Both parties must have received legal counsel
The agreement should not be detrimental to any children.
The agreement must meet the needs of both parties.
Can you sign a prenuptial agreement after marriage?
A prenuptial agreement must be executed before marriage. If a couple is already married but wishes to establish legal protection, they can opt for a postnuptial agreement instead. The legal treatment of a postnuptial agreement is similar to that of a prenuptial agreement; the only distinction lies in the timing of its creation.
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