/ Divorce / Prenuptial agreements

Do prenuptial agreements work in Northern Ireland?

Prenuptial agreements are not legally enforceable in Northern Ireland. 

But they can be used in court proceedings to give an indication of the couple’s intentions about what might happen if their marriage were to break down at some point in the future.

Disclaimer

This guide outlines general topics you should be thinking about if you want to get a divorce in Northern Ireland. But it is not legal advice. If you need legal advice, you should contact a specialist divorce solicitor for advice on your specific circumstances.

Do prenuptial agreements work in Northern Ireland?

Nobody enters into a marriage or a civil partnership expecting that it will end in divorce.

But the sad fact is that roughly a quarter of marriages in Northern Ireland break down.

Prenuptial agreements set out how a couple want their assets divided, in the event that the parties decide to go their separate ways at some point in the future.

In Northern Ireland however, although prenuptial agreements are not legally enforceable, they can be referred to by the courts to get an indication of what the couple’s intentions were at the outset of the marriage.

Over the years, the courts have paid more attention to prenuptial agreements, and since the case of Radmacher and Granatino in 2010, there is a general presumption that they should be largely upheld (unless there is good reason not to).

So while they aren’t strictly enforceable, a prenuptial agreement can be very useful.

For example, perhaps one spouse has a stake in a family business which would not be practical to split in the event of the marriage breaking down.

A prenuptial agreement could set out how such a situation could be dealt with in a fair and balanced way (perhaps a way of calculating a lump sum payable, instead of a stake in the company).

Providing the agreement is entered into freely by both parties and it fairly addresses their needs, it’s unlikely that the court would ignore it when deciding how assets should be split post divorce.

The above article is part of our guide on how to get a divorce in Northern Ireland.

If you are thinking about getting a divorce, you should get in touch with a Northern Ireland specialist divorce solicitor who will be able to provide advice tailored to your own personal circumstances.

If you have any questions, you are very welcome to get in touch.

All the best,

The Team @ Lightlaw
Every effort is made to keep this guide up to date. Although it is not to be regarded as legal advice, we strive to make sure the information is helpful, accurate and practical. If you are a Northern Ireland divorce solicitor and have spotted an inaccuracy, you can submit a suggested change.
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