News

2013

7'10

Signed a prenuptial agreement? Your church marriage is void

Signed a prenuptial agreement? Your church marriage is void

Adultery is not a sufficient ground to announce the church marriage as void, as a spouse‘s fall is considered as a mistake, which, having sworn in the presence of God to be in good times and in bad, should be forgiven for. In other words, being slapped on your right cheek, turn the other one. However, a signed prenuptial agreement prior to the moment of the church marriage, which discusses the terms and conditions in case of a divorce, a union made under the roof of a church, is considered to be void.

Such information is given by the priest Ričardas Doveika during the fiancé courses. He highlights that fiancés filling out the matrimonial questionnaires and witnessing such with their signatures should state any impediments to their marriage.

It should be a union of two people having fallen in love with each other, ant not a legal agreement.

“A prenuptial agreement according to the Canon Law is such an impediment to a marriage, as such has an influence over a free will of a human. Having signed such an agreement a marriage becomes a legal act. It should be a union of two people having fallen in love with each other, and not a legal agreement“, – explained R. Doveika to 15min.lt.

Lying to a priest is not an option

R. Doveika emphasized that a priest becoming aware of the fact that a prenuptial agreement was signed, which also discusses a possibility of a divorce, holds a moral right and even a duty not to bless such marriage.

“If a fact of a prenuptial agreement is concealed, the church marriage is also held void, as void it becomes because of a lie and deception“, – stated the priest and rejoiced over the fact that he did not have to face such cases.

“I thank to God that prenuptial agreements in Lithuania is not a massive phenomenon. A document signed by the notary, specifying the type of property, owned by each of the spouses prior to their marriage, does not impede a sacrament of a marriage. The problem originates when the agreement is supplemented with an instrument, indicating behavior in case of a divorce. Discussion of a divorce prior to a marriage shows that a person entering into a marriage, issues certain terms, however, the vow taken during the church marriage contains a promise to stick with a spouse until death do them apart – in goods times and in bad ones“, – explained R. Doveika.

According to him, agreements signed between fiancés in Lithuania most of the time are limited to calculations of spoons and glasses. Whereas, in more economically developed countries, couples define very specific terms in their prenuptial agreements, for example: “I will marry you provided that I will be allowed to hang out with my girl friends or friends on a first Friday of every month. If such clause is violated, a person becomes legally free even from the marriage itself. Another example: in cases one of the spouses is bankrupting, the marriage is announced void, as such spouse cannot transfer the husband or wife several thousand litas every month for minor expenses”.

Love does not approve any “if“

Expert in the Canon Law, the priest Robertas Pukenis highlighted that a Church Court investigates not termination of the Marriage sacrament, but a question of its validity.

Tribunal of the Church adopts a decision whether the marriage is considered void.

“Marriage is an agreement between the christened ones and there should be no deception or conditions. Premarital agreement disrupts the foundation of unconditionality. For example, if a clause, stating that a spouse is obliged to graduate from a university, otherwise the marriage may be terminated, is included in a prenuptial agreement, the marriage is considered void. If you love someone, there cannot be any “ifs”. Marriage is not a commercial treaty“, – emphasized R.Pukenis.

For example, if a clause, stating that a spouse is obliged to graduate from a university, otherwise the marriage may be terminated is included in a prenuptial agreement, the marriage is considered void.

However, according to him, a postnuptial agreement is not a ground under basis of which the church marriage is announced void: “The sacrament is in full force, and a division of property, stipulated in the agreement or other conditions, is considered as a domestic issue”.

Conditions taken from movies and books

The President of the Lithuanian Chamber of Notaries, Klaipeda notary Marius Stračkaitis assured the newspaper 15min.lt, that the notaries are aware of the regulations, specified in the Canon Law of the Church and notify the future spouses of such arriving to make a prenuptial agreement.

“Prenuptial agreements most of the time are made in a witness of the economic growth, when people have gained some property or assets or believe they might acquire such or in cases of economic recession. For example, if a marriage is being made between an indebted businessman and a women having no debts whatsoever, it is obvious that she is trying to protect herself and her children against, let’s say, the spouse’s bankruptcy“, – stated M.Stračkaitis.

Very often clients make inquiries whether the prenuptial agreement may include such conditions, which they have seen in movies or read in books. My answer is very specific – the Civil Code of the Republic of Lithuania very clearly and non-ambiguously regulates what information cannot be and which can be listed in the prenuptial agreement.

Prenuptial agreements most of the times are made in a witness of the economic growth, when people have gained some property or assets or believe they might acquire such.

“The agreement might include a clause stating that assets acquired prior to a marriage or during such, shall remain a personal property of that spouse. This case, a division of property is avoided in presence of a divorce, as there is no joint property held. Provided that a marital property acquired prior to a marriage and following the prenuptial agreement becomes a joint property, in case of a divorce it will be divided following the understanding made in the agreement (or subject to a law, if spouses have not made an understanding regarding such in their agreement). The agreement may stipulate that a property gained after a marriage may become a joint partial marital property. In case of a divorce then such property will not be divided. The spouses may come to an agreement, that one of the three above named legal regime of a property may be applied to an entire property or to a certain part thereof or separate items“, – stated the notary.

The agreement may also stipulate mutual rights and duties, in connection with the property management, maintenance obligations of the spouse, meeting the family needs and other issues. The prenuptial agreement must not limit the rights and freedom of neither of the spouses, change the procedure and conditions of inheritance, limit or revoke the spouses right of the maintenance, establish or alter the spouses personal rights and obligations to their children, establish personal non-pecuniary relationship between spouses and be in conflict of other norms, specified in the laws.

Being singed once – attempts to be safe

The President of the Lithuanian Chamber of Notaries addressed the stereotypes in connection with the prenuptial agreement stating that it is a privilege of famous and wealthy people: “The opinion is prevalent that premarital agreements are intended for extremely wealthy people and thus such are not relevant to a majority. However, with an increasing number of divorces, more and more people are trying to protect themselves from possible financial loss”.

The opinion is prevalent that premarital agreements are intended for extremely wealthy people.

Premarital agreements are mainly an option of young, modern couples, people with higher income and valuable assets as well as those people heading into a marriage not for the first time. It was also noticed that people at a younger age are prone to enter into such agreements with a recommendation of wealthy parents.

“Premarital agreements are mainly concluded by more educated people both in Lithuania and worldwide, where premarital agreements are more deeply rooted, as well as people who have been singed during their previous marriages“, – noted M.Stračkaitis.

However, family psychologists note that conclusion of premarital agreements or consideration of entering into such creates unsettling fears and doubts in relationships of a couple. The agreement as if shows that spouses do not believe in their joint life, until death do apart, which hurts the feelings.

While the jurists present a contradicting opinion. According to them, the agreement obliges them to look into a marriage with a more responsible attitude, and contribution in creating a family.

Popular among residents of cities

Premarital agreements in Lithuania were started to be registered since 2002. A number of such agreements is increasing with every year.

The statistics received from the Register of Marital Agreements reveal that in the year of 2003 a total number of 30 prenuptial and 130 postnuptial agreements were signed. Whereas, numbers of 2012 state that 365 prenuptial and 593 postnuptial agreements were signed. The Register of Marital Agreements has a total number of 5495 marital agreements registered.

According to information from the Central Mortgage Office, a majority of agreements are made in the biggest cities around Lithuania: during the year of 2012 Vilnius had 323 agreements concluded, Kaunas – 156, Klaipeda – 98, Siauliai – 39, Panevezys – 20 agreements.

Approximately 40 percent of people enter into prenuptial agreements, while 60 percent – postnuptial agreements.

According to information of the Register of Marital Agreements, last year the majority of postnuptial agreements were made during the 2nd–5th year of a marriage – with a total number reaching 168. Most of the time such agreements are signed by 31– 40 year olds.

Approximately 40 percent of people enter into prenuptial agreements, while 60 percent – postnuptial agreements.

Marital agreement – is an understanding between the spouses, which defines their pecuniary rights and duties while being in a marriage, as well as in a case of divorce or separation. A marital agreement may be concluded prior to registration of a marriage (prenuptial agreement) or at any time during the marriage (postnuptial agreement).

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