Prenuptial Agreement

What is a prenuptial agreement?

A prenuptial agreement is an agreement that two people enter into before they get married to regulate their personal and property relationships in the event of divorce.

A couple may decide to enter into a prenuptial agreement to provide for each other in case the marriage ends badly.

The prenuptial agreement is often used to make sure that both partners are treated fairly in a divorce, and is best done when the couple is happy and feeling loving towards each other.

There are other cases in which prenuptial agreements are entered into to protect the assets of an established partner who wants to marry someone who has significantly less assets and money.

Should you sign a prenuptial agreement?

Some couples are reluctant to sign a prenuptial agreement because they think a marriage based on love should never need one.

Regardless of the love within a couple, experience shows that in some cases signing a prenuptial agreement can have obvious benefits in the future.

For example:

  • It allows some important decisions to be made in a calm and rational moment, such as whose turn it will be to live in the marital home, who will be responsible for spousal maintenance, and who will live with the children.
  • It avoids unnecessary trauma and arguments that only lead to a waste of time, energy and money, especially nowadays when it is more common than it used to be for people to change partners even after getting married.
  • In the case of divorce, it normally prevents former spouses from ending up in litigation, with often traumatic consequences for themselves and their children.
  • It allows the couple to freely decide on their future, avoiding the need for a judge to impose conditions that could be disadvantageous to all if the marriage breaks down.

Prenuptial agreement in Germany

The prenuptial agreement is a widely used practice in Anglo-Saxon countries and is a kind of precaution for the married couple given a future end to their marriage.

There are well-known cases of many famous couples resorting to prenuptial contracts, especially to obtain monetary compensation if their partner cheats on them.

Only in some countries, however, are prenuptial contracts allowed. In cases where they are not provided for by law, judges may consider them when they have to rule on the end of the marriage, but they may not necessarily choose to do so.

German law provides for the use of prenuptial agreements. Under German law, a prenuptial agreement is only valid if it is notarized. Otherwise, the agreement is void.

Post-Nuptial Agreement

The increasingly popular post-nuptial agreement is entered into after the couple has been married and decides that they want a marital contract that stipulates what should happen if they divorce each other or some other calamity befalls them. In this scenario, both people should have their own independent lawyer who will represent them and negotiate for what is best for them.

These agreements should always be reviewed by a lawyer, even if the couple writes them. Besides wanting a legally enforceable post-nuptial agreement, the lawyers for each person will try to get them the best terms possible.

How a family law attorney can help

Regardless of the feelings about this practice, the goal is to protect the couple’s interests and ensure they both know what to expect if the marriage ends unhappily.

Always have a lawyer review your prenuptial agreement. Some laws govern them, and, in the case of an international marriage, your lawyers may need to manage some conflicts of marital law so that your prenuptial agreement is legal and binding in both countries.

Couples are advised to have different lawyers who negotiate on their behalf and in their best interests. If a couple writes their prenuptial agreement, their lawyers should review the agreement before signing.

Want to learn more about prenuptial agreements?

Write to us for more information about prenuptial agreements or if you want to draft one and need a lawyer experienced in doing so.

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Write to us if you want to sign a prenuptial agreement before you get married, and we will write it together so that it will be effective.