Prenuptial agreement: protection of property

This version of our prenuptial agreement has the single purpose of enabling each of the new marriage partners to protect ownership of the assets he and she brought into the partnership in the event of breakup. It is a simpler agreement for couples who are independently financially secure before the marriage or partnership, and for whom the concern is the retention of ownership of personal assets such as heirlooms or a business, rather than financial security. The document is drawn to meet the latest prospective requirements for the enforceability of a prenuptial agreement.

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About this prenuptial agreement

Nobody enters into marriage or civil partnership expecting it to end. However, all relationships change over time, usually in circumstances that no-one can foresee. Sometimes it is prudent to plan for the worst in the expectation that it won't occur.

This simple pre-marital agreement states that each party will retain the assets, property and possessions he and she each owned when he and she entered into marriage. It has been written for couples for whom financial support from the other is less important, perhaps because the partners have already accumulated enough wealth during their lifetimes to support themselves independently. The document seeks to protect ownership of that wealth, not to ensure one is supported by the other.

Of course, the agreement does provide for assets jointly bought, full disclosure and other elements crucial to acceptability by a court.

Why use this prenuptial agreement

  • provides security during and after marriage to both people;
  • avoid future disputes over how assets should be split and what each person contributed
  • saves legal costs;
  • helps ensure that the people you choose (such as children from an earlier relationship) inherit your wealth;
  • prevents your wealth from being given away shortly before break-up;
  • helps protect business assets from being split and sold;
  • makes a separation less emotionally stressful by removing the need to negotiate over many things.

Is a prenuptial agreement legally binding?

Prenuptial agreements have been permitted in New Zealand since enactment of the Matrimonial Property Act 1976. Section 21 of the Property (Relationships) Act 1976 expressly authorises that a husband and wife, civil union partners, de facto partners, or two persons in contemplation of entering into a marriage, civil union or de facto relationship may contract out of the provisions of the Act. The special requirements that must be met for contracting out agreement to be valid as follow:

  • must be in writing;
  • both parties must receive independent legal advice;
  • signatures need to be certified by a lawyer;
  • the lawyer must certify that, before that party signed the agreement, the lawyer explained to that party the effect and implications of the agreement.

Your local Citizens Advice Bureau should be able to help you arrange a meeting with an in-house lawyer who can witness you signing the agreement, and who can certify that you understood the effect of the agreement.

Alternative documents

We also stock another prenuptial agreement which covers a much wider range of possible outcomes and which also deals with matters to be agreed during your marriage.

That alternative version enables you to define your intentions over broader areas. There is extensive coverage of property, possessions, investments.

Children arrangements are included, but covered broadly and shortly, because circumstances at divorce can be very different to those at marriage and a judge will make an order based on what he sees at the time.

Agreement contents

This agreement covers the following:

  • the parties’ personal details;
  • relevant dates and application of principles likely to be required by law;
  • that property of each party remains his own;
  • prevention of one person reducing joint wealth before separation by giving away assets;
  • what should happen if one of you should die.
Draftsman

This document was written by a solicitor for Net Lawman. It complies with current New Zealand law.

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