Pre-nuptial agreements favoured by 73% of farmers

Almost three quarters of farmers are in favour of introducing pre-nuptial agreements into Irish law.

The Irish Examiner/ICMSA farming survey found 73% of farmers were in favour of pre-nuptials being recognised, with just one quarter of them against the idea.

This view was held across the gender divide and even among older farmers.

With divorce on the rise in Ireland, pre-nuptials are becoming increasingly popular among the farming community in particular.

Unsurprisingly, farms are a major and valuable asset in any marriage and divorce. As an asset often worth millions, they are of crucial importance in terms of inheritance also.

Currently, there is no legislation in place here surrounding pre-nuptial agreements and their enforceability in law.

As a result, courts here do not have to recognise a pre-nuptial agreement, although there is nothing preventing a couple entering into such an arrangement. The enforceability of a pre-nuptial agreement is decided on a case-by-case basis.

Commenting on the findings, ICMSA president John Comer said the idea that a man or woman can marry into a farm and then walk away with half the land in the case of a divorce fills farming families “with horror”.

“In those circumstances, where the party ‘leaving’ has to be ‘bought out’ of their share of the farm, it can mean that the remaining farmer is saddled with often massive debt.

“That scenario, or even the possibility of that scenario, can cause huge tension within farm families and the notion that such a disaster for the whole family can be avoided by setting in place a pre-nuptial agreement will be extremely popular with farm families,” he said.

Mr Comer said farm families are very aware that their land goes back generations and that they are entrusted to safeguard it.

“In a situation where it has taken generations of back-breaking hard work to assemble a viable farm, it’s very easy to understand a situation where the farm family wants to safeguard the farm that their forefathers spent their lives working on and improving,” he said.


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