Prenups may seem like something that only exists in American movies but they have been growing in popularity worldwide over the last 2 decades.
There has always been a debate about whether getting a prenup is a bad way to start a marriage, it may signify a lack of trust between partners. It is like preparing for the end before it even begins.
People are getting married much later in life compared to previous generations. The average age of grooms and brides in 2019 was 36.8 years and 34.8 years respectively, according to a survey carried out by the CSO.
This means that both partners often come into marriage after already accumulating a certain amount of assets they may want to protect. They may be business owners, have property or other assets they want to preserve.
But what is the status of prenuptial agreements in Ireland? Let’s find out.
What is a prenup agreement?
Prenuptial agreements are for individuals who want to have greater control over how their assets and their income are divided and allocated in the event of a divorce, separation or death.
Not just reserved for the super-wealthy prenups can be used by partners of all levels of income.
Usually prenuptial agreement terms cover:
- Protecting children’s inheritance
- Business ownership
- Protecting assets or savings
- If one partner has a significant amount of debt, the other may want to protect themselves from being burdened with it in the event of a divorce
Legal status of Prenuptial agreements in Ireland
Prenups have not been legislated in Ireland meaning the courts are not bound to follow such agreements and they can be disregarded completely.
There is nothing however that prevents a judge from using a prenup agreement as a guide when it comes to a divorce settlement.
A judge is more likely to take into a premarital agreement if it is in writing and both parties have gone through a process thoroughly and comprehensively and been given legal advice on it from the outset. It must be clear that both parties have not hidden assets from each other.
Back in 2007, the Irish government set up a pathway for prenuptial agreements to be legislated for under the Family Law Acts after a ‘Report of the Study Group on Pre-nuptial Agreements’ was presented to the then Minister for Justice, Law, and Reform Michael McDowell. But there has been no movement by successive governments over the past 15 years even despite the report recommending that prenups be legislated for.
Some of the opposing views in this report were; “There exist arguments against pre-nuptial agreements which must be considered. They may not always provide a fair solution to marital break-up, they may prompt litigation and drain marital resources, and they may be viewed as offending public policy to a degree.”