Protecting Your Wealth With A Prenuptial Agreement
If you are about to marry or have just married, it may seem unromantic to put in place legal paperwork that will help determine what happens if you split up. Yet, in certain situations, it’s prudent to safeguard vital financial assets like businesses or inheritances. Prenuptial agreements, established before marriage, and postnuptial agreements, created after your wedding, offer this assurance and peace of mind.
Prenuptial or postnuptial agreements are most frequently sought by:
- Individuals with Substantial Assets – If you have accumulated wealth, property, or business interests before the marriage, you may wish to protect these assets from potential division in a divorce.
- People Marrying Later in Life – If you are marrying later in life, you are likely to have more assets and an established career. A prenup can help ensure that these assets remain separate or are distributed according to your wishes.
- Those with Children from Previous Relationships – If you have children from prior relationships and want them to receive specific assets or inheritances, a prenuptial agreement can lay out these provisions clearly.
- Individuals Expecting Large Inheritances – If you are anticipating a substantial inheritance, you might want to exclude it from shared marital assets.
- Entrepreneurs and Business Owners – If you own or are a major investor in one or more businesses, a prenup can help protect these interests in the event of a divorce by preventing the need to sell or divide a business.
- People with Significant Debts – If your partner is bringing substantial debt into the marriage, a prenup can protect you from being responsible for that debt in case of a divorce.
- Couples with Disparate Incomes – If there’s a significant income disparity between you and your spouse, a prenup can outline financial expectations and arrangements.
- Those Who Value Financial Clarity – Couples who want to foster open communication about finances and set clear expectations for their financial future might choose a prenup as a tool for transparency.
At McCarthy + Co, our family law team assist couples in all these categories and more, helping them to safeguard their property and wealth in the event of a relationship breakdown. Our solicitors are honest and plain speaking, providing expert guidance tailored to the unique situation you have with your fiancé or spouse. Considering setting up a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement? Arrange a consultation with us today by completing our highly confidential consultation form.
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Frequently Asked Questions
Questions we are often asked in relation to divorce & separation.
What is the purpose of a prenuptial agreement?
The main purpose of the agreement is to outline the distribution of assets and specify financial rights and responsibilities in the event of a divorce, separation, or death. The agreement can help protect individual assets acquired before the marriage and delineate how future assets or debts will be divided. By setting clear financial expectations and provisions, prenuptial agreements can reduce conflicts and misunderstandings during a marriage and simplify the divorce process if the relationship ends. Additionally, they can protect one partner from assuming the debts of the other, help protect the financial interests of your children, and help to protect any businesses or commercial investments.
Are prenuptial agreements legally enforceable in Ireland?
No, they are not enforceable under Irish law. The Irish Constitution sees the family as the primary unit of society and promises to guard the sanctity of marriage from any unjust attack. Prenuptial agreements are seen as a potential attack on the sanctity of marriage as they foresee its termination. However, Irish courts do recognise and consider these documents during divorce and separation proceedings. So, as long as both parties have signed the agreement, a court in Ireland will consider its contents when determining how to divide wealth and assets. Nevertheless, it's important to understand that the courts are not strictly obligated to adhere to these agreements.
How can I increase the likelihood of a court respecting the agreement?
Prenuptial agreements are more likely to be considered if both parties have sought independent legal counsel prior to entering them. The court needs assurance that a thorough disclosure of assets was made before finalising the agreement. It's also recommended for the agreement to include provisions for reviews at regular intervals, particularly following the birth of children or any significant changes in circumstances, like the acquisition or sale of assets. The document needs to be signed by both parties and written in adherence with established principles of contract law, for courts in Ireland to consider it.
My fiancé and I have just graduated and don't have any assets. Do we need a prenuptial agreement?
While prenuptial agreements are commonly associated with protecting significant assets, they can serve other purposes. For couples who are just starting out and don't have substantial assets, a prenuptial agreement might not seem immediately necessary. However, it's worth considering that such an agreement can also address potential future earnings, inheritance, or debts. If either of you anticipates a substantial increase in income, expects to receive an inheritance, or has plans to start a business, a prenup can provide clarity and protection. Additionally, it can set out financial expectations and responsibilities during the marriage. Most young couples who plan on getting married do not discuss finances until after they have tied the knot, only later discovering that their ideas about money are quite different. For this reason, it is beneficial to seek legal counsel even if neither of you currently have substantial assets.
Clíodhna O’Regan leads the family law department at McCarthy + Co. Clíodhna’s educational background includes studying law and European studies at the University of Limerick, even completing a semester in Madrid where she navigated the complexities of law in Spanish.
Clíodhna can be contacted via email at: email@example.com
About McCarthy + Co
McCarthy + Co. are a team of solicitors with more than 30 years of experience in providing legal advice, guidance and assistance to clients across Ireland.
We are a family-run business with offices in Dublin and Cork, but we have dealt with clients everywhere from Galway and Limerick to Waterford. We are honest, plain-speaking and thorough – we will work alongside you to achieve the best possible outcome for your case.
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Flor McCarthy wears multiple hats, not only as the managing partner of one of Ireland’s leading law firms, but also as an author, speaker and an acknowledged expert in client service, innovation and marketing.
Beginning his academic journey at UCC, Flor furthered his education with a master’s degree in law from UCD. After gaining valuable experience as a solicitor in Dublin, the allure of home and the family brought him back to West Cork to contribute his expertise to the family business.
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John McCarthy is a seasoned solicitor with almost 20 years of experience, specialises in personal injury and medical negligence claims, focusing particularly on high-value compensation cases. His extensive litigation experience spans Circuit Court, High Court and Supreme Court levels.
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