Pre-Nuptial Agreements: Why I recommend them for international marriages

The best case to make for a pre-nuptial agreement is that it’s insurance. People who get married don’t imagine that they’ll get divorced, but with roughly half of marriages ending in divorce, it’s certainly a strong possibility. And if a couple does get divorced, a pre-nuptial agreement that clearly states what happens to both parties’ assets and income can ensure that the couple won’t get into a long, costly, possibly contentious courtroom battle over those assets and income.

It’s also a good idea to create a pre-nuptial agreement in any case where it might be confusing to determine which laws apply to a couple. International marriages definitely fall into this category. When the two parties hail from separate countries, and each retains his or her distinct national citizenship, it can be more challenging for the courts to make determinations about how to divide assets and decide issues of support and parenting children.

If you’re planning to marry someone from another country, regardless of whether the wedding is taking place in the United States or overseas, it’s worthwhile to take the time to work with lawyers to craft a fair pre-nuptial agreement.

One of the most important things to remember about these agreements is that if they appear to be drawn up unfairly or hastily, they stand a good chance of not being honored by the courts. Each party should work with a family lawyer familiar with pre-nuptial agreements, and sign it well before the wedding, to give it the best chance of holding up under legal scrutiny.

If English isn’t the first language of one of the parties, the agreement should be translated into that person’s native language, and each party should retain copies of the document in both languages for their potential future use.

It’s also important to note that it’s up to the divorcing parties to produce a copy of the pre-nuptial agreement for it to be used if there is a divorce – it won’t just magically appear when you or your spouse file a petition for divorce. If you’re working with a good family law firm that keeps records, it should retain a copy of your pre-nuptial agreement, but you should never totally rely on that, and make sure you keep it in a safe place that you and you alone can access.

It’s also important to note that in some countries, prenuptial agreements aren’t as binding as they are in the United States, but at the very least, they’ll express your intentions to those judges and should be factored into a ruling. If you are divorcing in the United States, though, a pre-nuptial agreement can be an integral part of the process. It does take time and energy to get a pre-nuptial agreement done, but it takes much less time, energy, and heartache to deal with those questions before a marriage starts rather than when a divorce is in process.