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International Premarital Agreements

While premarital or prenuptial agreements have become far more commonplace in recent years in the United States, other countries treat these documents quite differently. Some countries do have provisions by which parties can enter into premarital-type agreements that are designed to safeguard and keep separate an individual’s property in the event that the couple divorces. However, these agreements are often quite different from what we would recognize as a prenuptial agreement, and they may or may not be enforceable in American courts.

Foreign countries typically utilize one of two different types of premarital agreements. The first type is a marital regime, and is probably the best available option in a foreign jurisdiction for keeping property separate prior to marriage. A marital regime is an agreement that details how property is to be divided upon a divorce or death. Some countries have a number of different types of regime available, but the most common type of regime simply keeps the parties’ respective property separate, just as if they never had been married at all.

In order to enter into a marital regime, the parties must appear in front of a notare or notar (notary), which is a lawyer who drafts and records contracts and other legal documents for parties, which is very different than a notary public in the United States. In some cases, the parties are represented by independent legal counsel, but more often, the parties simply meet with the notary and sign the agreement. Courts in some countries, however, will overrule a marital regime if they find it to be in the interests of justice, including the United States.

The other type of premarital agreement that occurs internationally is a religious agreement. Unlike a marital regime, the court typically will not enforce a provision that interferes with its authority to divide up property and debts, although it may recognize it as a valid contract. As far as an Islamic marriage contract, or “mahr” goes, for instance, courts generally will not enforce traditional provisions that limit a wife’s ability to relocate upon divorce, mandate a custody order for any children who are born of the marriage, or distribute property or dower rights.

The bottom line is that you have signed or are considering signing an international version of a prenuptial agreement, you need to consult with an Atlanta divorce attorney who has the unique experience and knowledge necessary to advise you of your legal rights, both here and in other countries.

Contact us or call today to learn how Shaw Law can work with you to achieve the best outcome possible for you and your children.

Scott Shaw is founder and principle of Shaw Law Firm LLC, founded in 1995 and dedicated solely to divorce, family law and child custody matters that must be addressed and decided in the state of Georgia. Shaw Law Firm serves the greater Metro Atlanta area, particularly the counties of Fulton, Gwinnett, Cobb, Cherokee, Forsyth, Paulding, Henry, Fayette, Coweta, Newton, Walton, Bartow and Douglas. Schedule a consultation today at 770-594-8309.