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.