by Jeremy D. Morley
International people who plan to marry should always consider entering into a prenuptial agreement drafted by experienced international family law counsel. While there are many benefits of prenuptial agreements for conventional marriages, the benefits may be far greater for international people. A key benefit for international people is that a prenuptial agreement may drastically simplify a future divorce that might otherwise be extremely complex.
Divorce laws remain local and parochial. Even though many of us live global lives, divorce requirements and procedures vary a lot from country to country. So do the substantive laws about dividing assets, spousal maintenance and child support. And the laws about prenuptial agreements and marriage contracts differ considerably from country to country, as do the attitudes of courts. Outside of the European Union, there is generally no comprehensive body of international law that governs the application of local law to international personal relationships.You just cannot assume that a “prenup” that is currently valid in the place of the marriage or the place of current residency will be equally valid in other places that might have jurisdiction over your divorce in the future.
In our office, we receive numerous inquiries from potential clients around the world concerning enormously complex multi-jurisdictional issues that would have been far simpler to handle if the parties had entered into a prenuptial agreement when they were married.
A related challenge is that many prenuptial agreements are drafted by counsel who do not have experience in handling and planning for issues that may arise if clients or their spouses have more than one country of residence or assets in different countries.
A well-written prenuptial agreement, that is drafted properly with potential international enforcement in mind, will simplify almost everything about the financial elements of many of these cases. This can make the divorce process faster and cheaper, less stressful for both parties and much less painful for the party with assets to protect.