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How do Prenuptial Agreements work in Northern Ireland, and what are the top benefits?

Getting married is a massive milestone in your life. Along with the many plans that you will make for the big day, there are other conversations that you may wish to have with your partner, like signing a prenuptial agreement to protect your financial future, in case things don’t go to plan.

Prenuptial agreements are a practical way of protecting your financial future, and whilst they are often mentioned in the press when sharing the news of a celebrity breakup, they aren’t just for wealthy celebrities and are becoming far more common for couples in Northern Ireland.  

Partner Ciara Brolly shares how prenuptial agreements work in Northern Ireland and why you might consider one.

What is a Prenuptial Agreement in Northern Ireland?

A prenuptial agreement is a written contract which you enter with your partner before you get married; it sets out what will happen to each of your respective assets such as property or financial savings should your marriage break down.

Can I get a prenuptial agreement if I’m already married in Northern Ireland?

You can’t sign a prenuptial agreement if you’re already married, but you can agree on a postnuptial agreement for people who are already married but want to protect their assets. 

A postnuptial can also be used if you have a prenuptial agreement but want to confirm or change the terms once you are married. 

Will a court recognise my prenuptial agreement if I get a divorce in Northern Ireland?

Whilst prenuptial agreements aren’t technically legally binding in Northern Ireland and England, they do carry significant weight in court, meaning that a judge will likely honour the terms, especially since the Supreme Court case of Radmacher v Granatino, where the prenuptial agreement was honoured, and set the stage for examples of how judges should view prenups going forward. 

What are the benefits of having a Pre / Post Nuptial Agreement in place?

A pre or postnuptial agreement is the best way to protect your assets, whether that’s your business, inheritance or something else. They offer clarity and certainty to couples from the beginning and can help ease the pressure if divorce does happen because the division of assets has already been agreed upon. This can save both money and time if separation occurs.

What does a prenuptial agreement protect you from in Northern Ireland?

If you don’t have a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement in place and you decide to divorce, how your assets are distributed will be left at the discretion of the courts. You may have to go through a lengthy and costly process to agree on the terms. For some couples, this can cause huge emotional distress during what is already a stressful time.

Having a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement in place can help protect your and/or your spouse’s wealth if things don’t work out, they are used as a guide of how your assets should be split if divorce happens. 

What should my partner and I include in our prenuptial agreement?

A lawyer will help you to understand what exactly you want to include in a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement; below are the things you may wish to consider:

  • Property held in your sole name and joint names
  • Savings
  • Pensions
  • Income
  • Business interests
  • Inheritance
  • Investments
  • Property
  • Debts

Are there any items that should not be included in a Prenuptial Agreement?

In a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement, you shouldn’t include anything non-financial related such as child support, lifestyle expectations, anything illegal, unfair or unreasonable, or indeed a divorce incentive.

My partner has asked for a prenuptial agreement, how should I negotiate?

Some people can feel hurt if a partner asks them to sign a prenup, but it’s essential to try and remain practical; a prenuptial agreement can be seen as a financial planning tool and is not a reflection of your relationship. Both of you need to have had independent legal advice for the prenuptial agreement, so a lawyer will help you understand and negotiate the terms if you have something different to add. 

Can I use one lawyer for a prenuptial agreement for me and my partner in Northern Ireland?

Both you and your partner will need to seek independent legal advice; when you speak to us, we can recommend another lawyer for your partner.

The importance of seeking independent legal advice is to make sure that you are both acting of your own free will and that neither of you is being coerced; this is why the advice is to sign the agreement at least one month before the wedding.

What makes a Pre/Postnuptial Agreement invalid?

Your prenuptial or postnuptial agreement is invalid if you and your partner have not spoken to a lawyer or if you have not disclosed one another’s assets to each other. 

It’s also classed as invalid if the prenuptial or postnuptial agreement has unreasonable or unfair terms in it that do not meet the needs of the your partner.

What are the first steps in setting up a Prenuptial Agreement?

If you’d like to find out more about a prenuptial agreement or you’ve decided to proceed with one, the first step is to speak to a solicitor.

You’ll need to consider: 

  • What assets you have
  • What assets your partner has 
  • What financial needs would you have if you were to separate 
  • If you have children, you’ll have to consider what their current and future financial needs are

Can Wilson Nesbitt help with a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement?

We can help you whether you want to know more about how a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement works or if you’re ready to put one in place. We can advise you on the first steps and the best solution that will suit you, your family, and your future plans.

Call us on 028 9022 7808 or make an inquiry via our Let’s get Started form.


Is there a template for a prenuptial agreement in Northern Ireland?

Whilst you may see templates online, for a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement to be enforceable, you and your partner must have received professional legal advice. Due to their nature, they are very personalised contracts, so a lawyer will help you understand what you are agreeing to.

Is a prenup split 50 50?

A prenuptial and postnuptual agreement is split however you decide. A 50/50 split is considered normal if you are both entering with equal assets, but often this isn’t the case and a prenuptial agreement allows you to make more specific arrangements depending on which assets you’d like to protect.  

How long does a prenup last in the UK?

You may decide to put a ‘sunset clause’ into your agreement, which has a specific expiration date but without this condition in place the agreement won’t have an end and so will last indefinitely.

Get in touch

To find out more about how we can help you with your query, please contact us.