Prenuptial agreements (prenups) have become integral legal tools in the marital world.
These agreements entered into by the couple envision how their assets will be divided in the event of a divorce.
With Malta’s traditionally catholic landscape, and considering that the country was one of the last countries in the world to legalise divorce 12 years ago, are these legal tools being utilised by Maltese couples?
Lovin Malta reached out to prominent family lawyer Robert Thake to ask him some of our burning questions about the (slightly awkward) potential safety nets that are prenups.
1. How do prenups work?
“Prenups (and postnups) are intended to keep assets and debts separate. Normally, spouses getting married in Malta or who settle in Malta are subject to the community of acquests, which means that anything they acquire during their marriage (other than through inheritance or donation) is common, whether good or bad,” Thake explained.
2. Does a prenup imply a potential breakup?
“Not necessarily, although I have had some cases when it was a precursor. Prenups and postnups are often resorted to when a spouse is susceptible to incurring liabilities which s/he doesn’t want the other spouse to be burdened by,” Thake explained.
3. Is there a sense of awkwardness when discussing prenups?
Thake candidly admits that discussions around prenuptial agreements are “almost inevitably” awkward, reflecting the emotional and sensitive nature of planning financial arrangements while embarking on a life together.
4. What happens if you break up without a prenup?
In the absence of a prenup, the community of acquests is terminated upon divorce, and the assets and debts accumulated during the marriage are divided between the spouses, Thake explained.
5. Have you witnessed couples breaking up because of prenups?
Thake notes that, so far, he has not witnessed couples breaking up directly due to prenuptial agreements.
He explained that contrary to popular belief, the agreements provide a level of clarity since they avert potential complications when it comes to asset division in the event of a breakup.
Thake added that “anything without clarity is bound to be obscure to one extend or another. How complicated things get normally depends on how complicated things are. Prenups generally simplify things when liquidating an estate.”
6. Are prenups common in Malta?
While gaining popularity over the last decade, prenuptial agreements are “still the exception to the rule” in Malta.
Do you think it’s high time that Malta normalised these legal tools? Or do you think that these agreements are romance killers?