Prenuptial Agreements

A study group on Pre-Nuptial Agreements was established in December 2006. Its terms of reference was to study and report on the operation of the law since the introduction of Divorce in 1996 with respect to Pre-Nuptial Agreements, taking into account constitutional requirements. The study group was chaired by Ms Ingle Clissman SC and included Legal Practitioners and academics as well as representatives of the Attorney General’s Office.

The study groups core recommendation was that separate provision should be made in both the Family Law Act 1995 and the Family Law Divorce Act 1996 to provide that the Courts be required to have regard to existing Pre-Nuptial Agreements when making ancillary relief Orders in Judicial Separation and Divorce Proceedings. The Report made recommendations on formalities necessary for the proper making of Pre-Nuptial Agreements so that the parties making such Agreements would be fully informed and protected.

These recommendations in brief were that:

  1. The Agreement should be in written form.
  2. The parties should each have received separate legal advice as to the effect and meaning of the Agreement.
  3. Each of the parties should have made disclosure of all relevant financial information.
  4. The Agreement should be executed not less than 28 days before the marriage.

In summary, Pre-Nuptial Agreements in Ireland at present have no express force in law, with the exception of Section 113 of the Succession Act 1965. The importance to be attached to Pre-Nuptial Agreements will be determined case by case basis by the Court, provided the recommendations of the study group are implemented.

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