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Prenups and International Divorce

How could a prenuptial agreement affect an international divorce?

When you’re happily in love and planning a wedding, the idea of a prenuptial agreement can seem horribly unromantic. But planning ahead makes a lot of sense if you are already wealthy, in line for a substantial inheritance, or marrying for the second (or more) time.

A well-written prenup can protect your existing wealth, family assets and future prospects, as well as giving you and your partner reassurance about what will happen if your marriage should ever fail.

However, even the most watertight prenup may not be enforceable if you’ve moved to a different country by the time you decide to divorce.

Will my prenup be recognised by a foreign court?

Not always – so if you do decide to divorce in another country it’s wise to seek advice about the impact that could have on any prenuptial agreements drawn up in the UK.

If you have an existing pre-nuptial agreement, you should carefully consider where to file for divorce. If you are living in another country, you may be eligible to divorce in multiple jurisdictions. For example, you may be able to divorce in any country where you or your spouse live regularly (for work or study etc), live permanently or a country where either you or your spouse are nationals.

When you’re making your decision, you should consider where the prenup was written and whether it is likely to be recognised by the court in that jurisdiction. It’s vital to get advice from a specialist international divorce solicitor about which jurisdiction would help you achieve the best outcome for you and your family.

Do I need a prenuptial agreement if I move abroad?

If you’re reasonably wealthy, you should certainly seek legal advice before taking up residence in another country – even if you have no plans to divorce.

It might be wise to create a prenuptial agreement in that country, if there is even the slightest possibility you might need to seek a divorce there.

A prenup could be invaluable if your marriage did break down while you were living abroad, particularly if either you or your spouse is independently wealthy. Even if you already have a prenup in the UK or another jurisdiction, it makes sense to set up a separate agreement that would apply in your new home.

If you’re already married, you could commission an additional post-nuptial agreement for that jurisdiction or create an agreement that any financial settlements will be made in the country where your original prenuptial was written.

Will my foreign prenup be recognised in the UK?

You may be considering creating a prenup, ‘matrimonial regime’, ‘marital property system’ or even an agreement to cover your assets abroad, in different country.

If are entering such an arrangement, it’s vital to take account of jurisdictional differences and issues before you come to the UK, and possibly include clauses that will apply in both jurisdictions. You need to ensure certainty if the worst should happen and you decide to divorce, by making sure the courts in both countries will interpret the agreement as you wish.

The benefits of an international prenup

Even if you’re both British and live in the UK, there are plenty of good reasons to set up a prenuptial agreement. After all, who knows where life or your careers could take you?

But the advantages are even greater if you and your spouse are from different countries, have assets or property abroad, or live overseas. It’s always wise for international couples to consider drawing up a prenup that will apply in any relevant jurisdiction. This could be known as an international prenuptial agreement, an ante-nuptial agreement, a premarital agreement, or even simply a marriage contract.

If you do decide to divorce in the future, an existing international agreement could dramatically simplify proceedings that could otherwise be complicated, baffling and horribly expensive.

International prenups and divorce are a complex area, and if they’re handled incorrectly it can have significant financial consequences. That’s why it’s always wise to consult an international divorce specialist


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