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Couples intending to marry in Ireland are free to enter into pre-nuptial agreements if they wish to. However, unlike some other jurisdictions like the US, such agreements are not binding on the courts in the event of a separation and so the courts retain their right to make whatever orders they see fit in order to ensure there is proper provision for both parties.

However, the recent decision by the Supreme Court in England in a case called the Radmacher case has given much greater weight to pre-nuptial agreements there. It may be that in time such agreements will carry greater weight here – at present they are only one of the factors to be taken into account by a court when deciding what is proper provision.

Ironically, under the Civil Partnership and Certain Rights and Obligations of Cohabitants Act 2010 it is possible for cohabitants to enter into a type of pre-nuptial agreement in that the Act allows such cohabiting couples to enter into legally binding agreements governing what is to happen their assets in the event that the relationship breaks down. It will be interesting to see whether pre-nuptial agreements are therefore given greater weight by the legislature in the future.

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