As a practicing Catholic, it can be difficult to know how to marry [no pun intended] the needs of a society in which a prenuptial agreement is a wise course of action with the doctrine and needs of the church. Below, we look at some of the Catholic viewpoints on the prenuptial agreement.
Does the Catholic Church unilaterally ban divorce?
Firstly, it is a fallacy [though an often represented one] that the Catholic Church is in total opposition to divorce. There are circumstances under which the church will support a movement to divorce, particularly where it effects “certain legal rights, the care of children or the protection of inheritance” [CCC 2383] and/or the “departure of the other spouse” [Canons 1143-1146]. You are not banned from participation in the sacraments as a divorcee- even as the initiating party in a divorce. Those sacramental consequence fall upon divorced persons who later remarry, not every divorced person. Therefore, the prenuptial agreement is not necessarily a violation of church doctrine- it is the terms and circumstances of said prenuptial agreement that must be examined, not its mere existence.However prenuptial agreement is different in different states.
The general reasoning here can be seen as follows: within the doctrines of Catholicism, divorce is a civil mechanism of ‘necessary evil’ to provide an out for those Catholics who undertake marriage under false or impeding circumstances and later wish to escape that marriage and correct their deviation from the path of their spirituality.
So, does Catholicism support the idea of a prenuptial agreement in general?
There is a certain argument to be made for the vows of honour, love etc now included in the modern Catholic wedding ceremony to be seen as a pre-nuptial agreement of sorts- the only actual requirement to become married under the eyes of canonical law is the exchange of intention and consent [“I take you as my husband”/”I take you as my wife”] the rest of the promises made during the wedding ceremony are, as it were, the icing on the cake. The breaking of that ‘icing’ does not void the marriage as it does not void the consent exchanged- it merely voids the promises of love that were made. You certainly can make the argument that the agreement required among marrying Catholics to raise their children as Catholic [only recently dispensed with] was a pre-nuptial agreement. A pre-nuptial agreement, at its most simple, is merely a contract, and such contracts exist under canonical law.
So, as a kind of a contract, a pre-nuptial agreement is not inherently un-Catholic?
Does this mean, then, that the morality of a pre-nuptial agreement, especially within the confines of the church, can be seen as the important thing- not what you label it? Many believe that to be so. Therefore, it’s not impossible to see that the pre-nuptial agreement itself is not the problem or in any violation of church law. Contracts between consenting parties that honour the laws of the church are not forbidden in Catholicism. It is the clauses contained within such contracts that may violate the teachings of the Church.
There is a more prosaic argument here too- an unwilling party cannot prevent a divorce. It is not impossible to imagine a pre-nuptial agreement undertaken and designed to protect against a violation of the teaching of Christ on such matters that would, in fact, serve as a discouragement to civil divorce and an encouragement in the marriage of two serving, devoted Catholics.
So, what should I do as a devoted Catholic?
In the end, it is best to remember the following facts:
- That the matter of opposition to divorce and the Catholic Church is not a black and white issue.
- That contracts and situations that can be re-defined as ‘prenuptial agreements’ are not foreign to or against the teachings of the church per se.
- That, as with any contract under church law, it is the morality of a contract that is more important than the label applied to it.
With these points in mind, the creation of a prenuptial agreement honouring both your faith and protecting your presence in the civil space is not impossible, if undertaken with reference to church, morality and personal intention.…
No one wants to think their partner doesn’t trust them before a marriage, which is part of the reason that prenuptial agreements aren’t as popular as they perhaps should be. A prenuptial agreement is about planning and protecting of your finances. Divorce can make people bitter and removing the factor of money from it, can make the whole process easier.
It’s a statistical probability
I know that marriage might seem like the happily ever after, that Disney promised it to be, but the fact is the odds aren’t really in your favour. With one in three marriages ending in divorce the first time around, and the odds doubling for your second or third, you really will be swimming against the tide. So while it might seem unromantic planning for the scenario of divorce it is practical. The best case scenario you have a long and happy marriage, the worst case scenario is you will have stopped any bitterness about money during your divorce.
It differs culturally
The popularity of the prenuptial agreement can differ from culture to culture. For instance the use of a prenuptial agreement is barely heard of in European countries, regardless of the fact that their royalty has always used them. Yet in America they are more commonly used, though equally as often thrown out of court.
They are not easy to validate
If one of the parties getting divorced decides to appeal against the prenuptial agreement, the judge will often invalidate the contract. This is because prenuptial agreements are fiendishly tricky, when it comes to making them legally binding. There are so many factors to the agreement, that if anyone of them is even worded wrong, it could unravel the whole thing. People can be very bitter during a divorce and having your prenuptial agreement thrown out of court, could end up costing you a lot of money.There may be reasons that your agreement is invalid
Most people do not have millions
A huge reason that prenuptial agreements aren’t used as often as they should be is the fact, which people think they need millions to make it worth their while. This isn’t actually the case. Any amount of money that you have saved and earned is worth protecting. Think about it, if you own a house that you have worked years to get it could be worth just as much to you, as someone who has a millions. So just in case the worst happens and you do get a divorce, you want to make sure you assets are safeguarded.
If you are thinking about a prenuptial agreement, then you shouldn’t be put off by the negative connotations connected to it. Everyone has a right to protect their assets and you might find your partner agrees with it, just as much as you do. So don’t be afraid to approach the subject. If you both do decide to get a prenuptial agreement, they you both want to seek separate legal advice. Not only in case a judge ever needs to make a ruling on it, but also to make sure that it’s fair on both sides.…
What needs to be included
If you are thinking about signing a prenuptial agreement before marriage, then you need to know how to make it air tight.
Prenuptial agreements are not always legally binding contracts, and are often voided when put before a judge. So the best advice anyone could give to you, is that you need to do your research
You need to know what exactly a prenuptial agreement can be used for and what can make it void.
What can a prenuptial agreement be used for?
A prenuptial agreement is a contract which outlines how assets are distributed in the case of divorce. It outlines all your assets which you are entering marriage with, and any debts which you may be entering marriage with. This helps to prevent long drawn out divorces which can become bitter.
How many pages should it be?
There are no set guidelines on how long a prenuptial agreement should be. It depends mostly on the assets and agreements, that you and your partner what to set up. It could only need five or six pages to outline everything; then again it might need one hundred. It shouldn’t be too hard to do though, as both partners should have a mutual trust, after all you are about to enter a marriage.
What shouldn’t you put in a prenuptial agreement?
A prenuptial agreement is about assets, not personal matters.
Many a time prenuptial agreements have gone before a judge and been thrown out, because they discussed personal affairs of the marriage. Personal affairs include things like weight gain, frequency of intimacy and hair colour. As silly as it sounds people do try and include matters such as them, and it is a sure fire way to get the agreement totally voided.
Can you totally separate your finances?
You can separate your finances to a certain degree. If a judge thinks that the prenuptial agreement isn’t fair to either side of the party they may null it. So it needs to have a balance. For instance if the prenuptial agreement states that no child support will be paid in case of a divorce, then that will likely void your contract.
Do you need a lawyer to write the contract for you?
You don’t actually need a lawyer to write the prenuptial agreement for you, although it is advised that you do, with them being so tricky to validate. However all occasions call for a lawyer from each party to be present. During the signing if no lawyer is present when the documents are signed, then it doesn’t matter what’s in the thing, it will be thrown out.
If you are looking for a prenuptial agreement sample to base yours on, then there are many widely available on the internet.
Many of them are totally free to view and print too, which can make the job somewhat easier for you. It is wise to remember though that while the subject might be tricky, you need to sign the papers more than 21 days before the marriage ceremony, again if you do it any closer to the wedding it will not be seen as vaild.…
A prenuptial agreement is not always a legally binding contract and you need to know what a judge might see as an invalid agreement. There is no point in creating a prenuptial agreement at all if it won’t stand up in court. It’s been said that 1 in 3 marriages ends in divorce. So having a legally binding prenuptial agreement is always the best way to go.
21 days before you marriage
If you sign the prenuptial agreement less than 21 days before your marriage ceremony then it might be seen as invalid in court. This is because a judge might be persuaded that one of the parties was pressured into signing the document.
Keep it financial
Your prenuptial agreement could be classed as void if you involve any personal matters. A prenup is about money nothing else. You don’t want to bring any aspect of your marriage into the document.
It’s not about the kids
If you have children or are planning to have children during marriage then you don’t want to involve them in your agreement. This could void the entire document should it go to court.
Make sure you’re honest
If a judge thinks anyone has been duped they will write off the whole contract. Each person needs to know 100% of the others finances, to make an informed choice about signing.
Have a lawyer present
If you go ahead and have prenuptial agreement then on signing, have a lawyer present, to witness it happening. Having someone in the field of law watch you sign it, will stop most doubt in court about whether both parties understood what they were doing. Some people can be bitter through divorce and you don’t want them to be able to make false claims.
Keep it updated
If any major changes occur in your life, to do with your finances then you might want to update your contract. As they could and sometimes do leave the original one void. While you might be happy in your marriage it is still wise to keep to the agreement.
Just for that security in case anything did go wrong.
Some extra thoughts
It is always wise to treat the subject carefully with your partner. Some might take it as a sign of distrust in the relationship. You need to make it clear that it is only part of looking after your assets, and nothing to do with the actual relationship itself. Just because you might not be a millionaire doesn’t mean you don’t have a right to protect your assets.
$30,000 can mean just as much as a million, if you have spent your time working for it and saving it up. Make sure they know that just because you are safeguarding in case of divorce, doesn’t mean you think you will get divorced.
If you make sure they understand that, then you can avoid a lot of potentially hurt feelings. You don’t want either of you feeling unsure about the relationship before the marriage.…
The sad fact is one in three marriages end in divorce; you might want to consider this, if thinking about a prenuptial agreement.
Though not always legally binding when obtained correctly they are usually up kept by the court. If you think that a prenuptial agreement might be right for you then here are the 9 steps you need to take in order to get one.
Step One: Know whether you need one:
Don’t think that just because you don’t have millions, that you don’t need a prenuptial agreement. Even if you only have a small amount saved, it could be worth drawing one up. People can become bitter during a divorce, so having it all worked out beforehand is always a good idea, if you have something you might want to protect.
Step Two: Raise the issue early
If you are thinking about getting engaged to your partner, then you want to be thinking about a prenuptial agreement then. You want to raise it to your partner even possibly before you propose. So they know what your expectations are before they say yes to marriage.
Step Three: Be honest
Not only is honesty the best policy for your relationship when entering a marriage especially, but your prenuptial agreement might actually be voided if you aren’t honest. So you need to be upfront about all your financial details. The courts see it as your partner not knowing all the details before they agree, basically nulling the agreement.
Step Four: What you should include
Prenuptial agreements should be about financial issues which include money, stock or a retirement fund. They should not be about personal issues. A judge could find the agreement totally void if personal issues are in a prenuptial agreement. So Don’t include anything to do with children or your marriage.
Step Five: Be sensitive about the subject
Be sensitive about the subject. If one has more than the other, it can be a touchy subject. So while settings out what you want try to understand each other. A lot of arguments stem from discussing a prenuptial agreement which could be avoided. Think about it, no one really wants to think about divorce before their wedding.
Step six: Sign it in plenty of time
You need to have the prenuptial agreement signed at least 21 days before the marriage ceremony, if you don’t a judge could find it void. It might be argued that one of the parties felt pressured into signing it with the wedding being any closer.
Step Seven: Always get separate representation
When looking over the agreement you both want to get separate lawyers. This stops there being any preference given to the parties.
Step Eight: Always have three copies
When getting your prenuptial agreement signed you always want to have three copies. You also want to have one or both of your lawyers present at the time of signature. Then one of the copies is given to the lawyer, with one copy to you and the other to your partner. This is again so a judge can’t find it void in court.
Step Nine: Get a new prenuptial agreement is there are large changes
You might want to think about setting out a new prenuptial agreement every five years or so, or If there are any big changes in your finances. Often in a marriage the prenuptial agreement will be forgotten, but it’s always best to keep it update with your life.…