Pre-Nuptial Agreements are not officially recognized in Ireland but neither are they illegal. Such agreements are in fact mentioned in current family law legislation with the proviso that such an agreement can be varied by a judge at his discretion ie the court can look behind the agreement and distribute the assets differently than was envisaged in the agreement. On the face of it, this might look as if entering into pre-nuptial agreement in Ireland is a waste of time, however, this provision does not make pre-nuptial agreements unenforceable or irrelevant in Ireland.
As things stand such agreements can serve as guides for the distribution of assets as long as the Judge considers that the agreement was entered into in a transparent and fair manner and that both parties interests are reflected. Indeed, broadly speaking, the facility for a judge to look behind any such agreement is probably desirable whether pre-nuptial agreements are officially recognized or not.
Pre-Nuptial Agreement have a bad press. They tend to be associated with self centred rich and famous people who wish to marry young and beautiful people but not share any of their possessions with them. Whether you are rich and famous or a person of more modest means there are still good and persuasive reasons for considering a pre-nuptial agreement. People entering into second marriages, for example who have children of their first marriage may quite sensibly wish to protect assets for their children. Persons with inherited or acquired wealth entering into a marriage may be quite happy to share marital assets built up in the course of the marriage with their spouse but wish to protect their inheritance/wealth.
To ensure that your Pre-Nuptial agreement will be considered favourably by a judge it is very important that each side have time to consider the terms of the proposals prior to signing. In this regard most practitioners feel that three months is the optimum time period for such consideration.
There should be a full disclosure of all assets by both sides so that the agreement can be drafted as fairly as possible.
Both sides must receive independent legal advice.
It is considered advisable to insert a provision that the agreement should have periodic reviews every few years, if children are born to the marriage or if there is a fundamental change in circumstances.
All agreements pre-nuptial or otherwise should be professionally drawn up. A pre-nuptial agreement is, of course, predicated on a couple getting married and so a friendly and co-operative atmosphere between the two firms of solicitors is crucial. We would therefore recommend that you consider collaboration as the appropriate way of resolving this matter.
We will keep you posted as regards any developments on the website.