Pre-nupital agreements are a growing, but still an under-discussed, area of family law.  They are a highly complex and difficult area of law, in particular as there is neither legislative provision for such agreements in the Republic of Ireland nor is there any guidance whatsoever by way of decisions from the Irish Courts.

As a consequence, there are question marks as to whether a pre nuptial agreement is  enforceable at all in Ireland and/or to what extent the provisions of such agreements would be taken into account by the Courts in the event of a dispute between person who had entered into a pre nupital agreement.

Further, there are myriad types of such agreements, from purported ‘simple’ agreements restricting any financial claims by either spouse against the other to highly complex agreements which make certain financial provision in defined and set circumstances.  However, all such agreements must be viewed in the very particular way in which Irish family law is framed, including the legal and Constitutional obligation on the Courts (not the parties to a marriage) to determine what is appropriate financial provision upon separation or divorce and the legislative prohibition on spouses ‘contracting out of’ or waiving future claims for maintenance.

We have advised many clients in relation to drawing up a pre nuptial agreement.

pre nuptial agreement


What is a Prenuptial Agreement?

Prenuptial Agreements are not legally binding in Ireland. Even so, a judge may take such an agreement  into consideration, if the terms are fair and provide reasonable financial provision to each person.

Prenuptial Agreements, also known simply as ‘prenups’, set out how your assets should be divided if your marriage ends in divorce. They can also outline other arrangements, such as who should have custody of the children and how much maintenance should be paid.

Are prenups enforced in Ireland?

Prenuptial Agreements are not legally binding in Ireland. They carry significant weight in other countries, such as Australia and Canada. However, they have no basis in Irish law. This means that if you make a prenup and later get divorced, the judge does not have to follow the terms of the agreement.

Why do people make prenups?

Despite this, the legislation in Ireland does not prevent the courts from considering prenups. You are perfectly entitled to enter into a prenup, and in fact, a judge may be persuaded to rely on the terms of the agreement if:

It provides proper financial provision for each person
Each person sought independent legal advice before signing the agreement
Each person fully disclosed their assets before the agreement was signed
The agreement was reviewed frequently, particularly after major life events such as the birth of children and the sale/purchase of assets
The agreement is in writing and is signed and witnessed
Neither person was pressured into making the agreement

Will the law ever change?

In 2007, a Government Study Group published a report recommending that courts give regard to Prenuptial Agreements. The recommendations were never implemented. It is not known whether the legislation will change in the future.

Currently, it is still considered unconstitutional to automatically enforce prenups. This is because the courts have a duty to ensure ‘proper provision’ for each person. There are concerns that this safeguard would not be satisfied, if prenups were made legally binding.

pre nuptial agreement