Pre-nups – for or against

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The Supreme Court is set to rule on pre-nups, which the English seem not to like but are acceptable in many other countries.

There is some furore building as the UK waits for the Supreme Court ruling on prenuptial marriage agreements and their validity in England and Wales (see article here for one point of view).

I am not, personally, in favour of prenuptial agreements, as I feel they undermine the entire point of marriage, which is for two people to make a commitment to one another and stick to it. And if you don’t feel that way, why not just live together? However, the French, being pragmatists, already have this one in the bag. In France, there are four marital ‘regimes’:

* Communauté universelle, where everything you own is joint (including debts).

* Communauté reduite aux acquets, where everything you own up to the point of marriage is your own, everything after is joint (including debts). 

* Separation de biens, where everything you own, both before marriage, and after marriage, is yours (including debts). 

* Participation aux acquets, where everything you own is separate, unless the marriage is dissolved, in which case, all assets acquired since the marriage are joint. 

There are also three official levels of dependence for unmarried couples. 

* En union libre, where partners living together are taxed individually.  

* Concubinage, which gives some of the rights of marriage but not all (for instance, inheritance). 

* PACS – an official civil union, which adds rights to the ‘concubinage’ designation. 

Everyone who marries in France has to choose a ‘regime’ and, perhaps interestingly, given the other options and the high rate of divorce, most still opt for ‘communaute universelle’. Marriages conducted outside of France are also considered to be ‘communaute universelle’ unless the partners state differently. In other words, an equal distribution of assets. 

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