On the big day, hopefully the last thing the happy couple will be thinking of is that there is a possibility this marriage could end in divorce. They believe there is no chance that they will end up in that situation. However, couples should stop to consider that whilst Ireland has the lowest divorce rate in the EU, there were still 3,684 divorces granted by the High Court in 2007. They then might realise that it’s something best talked about while they still feel passionately fond of one another.
This is the part where lawyers become involved...before the marriage has even begun, in the form of prenuptial agreements (‘prenups’).
Prenuptial contracts are becoming more and more common. They involve spelling out exactly how a couple’s assets will be shared, should they end up getting a divorce.
Those who are very wealthy in particular, and those with a lot to lose, have been pragmatic about these things for many centuries. However, ordinary people are now beginning to plan ahead too.
A change in lifestyle is just one of the many factors influencing this new trend. People are marrying later in life which means that they have had time to save a considerable amount of money that they, obviously, do not want to part with. The more money there is to lose, the more anxious a partner becomes when wanting to protect his or her assets.
Furthermore, for those people who are entering into a second marriage, they will of course want to ensure that any existing children won’t lose out in case the marriage does not end up being a success.
Celebrities are well known for using prenuptial contracts in their marriages, to protect their millions
For example, when Katie Holmes married Tom Cruise, she used a pre-nup that stated for each year the couple remains married or if they have been together for 11 years, whichever comes first, Katie Holmes gains $3 million dollars. If they do manage to last 11 years of marriage, the prenup becomes void and Katie Holmes will receive half of Tom Cruise’s entire fortune.
When most couples marry, they do it on an understanding that neither one of them will cheat with another person as long as they are married. Denise Richards and Charlie Sheenwere so paranoid about this however, that they agreed to a pre-nup that stated if one spouse cheats during the marriage, the other will receive $4 million!
However, some famous couples make a prenuptial agreement to protect their children, not their fortune. Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt have signed an agreement stating that should the marriage fail, she will get full custody of their six children.
Many professionals will tell you it is a good idea to draw up a prenuptial agreement and that it should not be seen as a lack of belief that the marriage will work. It is impossible to think straight during a divorce as feelings like guilt, resentfulness, bitterness and hatred are all flying around. This is how arguments are caused, often resulting in expensive legal bills. There can be nothing lost by staying prepared.
In parts of Europe and America, prenuptial agreements are very common but are much less common here. Ireland has no legislation for ‘pre-nups’ and it is currently undecided as to whether it will be incorporated into the law in the future.