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International Marriages: Protecting Your Interests Cross-Border

Marrying people from other countries is a great way to broaden your horizons and experience love in its best possible form. One in every five Americans do it. If you’re one of those getting an international marriage, though, it’s important that you protect your assets in the same way that domestic couples ought to. The logistics of a prenup are different when you marry outside the country, but they’re just as important. Read on to learn how

The Basics of a Cross Border Prenup

A prenuptial agreement, or prenup, is a contract that a couple drafts and signs before getting married. It details what will happen to all assets if the pair get divorced in the future. It also talks about the legal obligations and rights of both parties in the event of a split.

Prenups also sometimes address these concerns if one member of the couple dies as well. While they traditionally outline details that would follow a divorce, they also can serve as an estate management tool. A legal team can help you determine what’s right for your needs.

In the United States, there’s no single way to draft a prenup. It will depend on the state that you live in. For example, Florida used the Uniform Premarital Agreement Act, but not all states will.

Prenuptial agreements get even more challenging when it comes to international marriages. However, they’re more important than ever before. This is especially true if the couple has multiple residences across country borders, conducts business activities in different locations, or plans to have children who are dual citizens.

Every country handles prenups differently. Different jurisdictions enforce documents in varying ways. That’s why the most important step towards creating an international prenup is determining jurisdiction.

Understand International Laws

Many nations permit prenuptial agreements. They’re generally enforceable throughout most of Europe, China, and Australia. Many South American nations such as Brazil also permit and enforce prenups.

Some countries only accept prenups under certain terms. For example, Singapore only treats prenuptial agreements “cautiously” and sees an existing agreement as only one factor of many to consider in a divorce. In Spain, prenups are valid unless they’re “seriously damaging” to one of the partners.

It’s important that you research and understand how prenups work around the world. This will give you more informed information on what jurisdiction to choose and what to include in your documents.

Choice of Jurisdiction

You and your new spouse will need to agree on which legal jurisdiction will enforce the prenup if necessary. If you are from Florida and your partner is from Japan, for example, you will need to decide together whether the prenup will be executed by US or Japanese standards.

Your choice of jurisdiction will be one of the first major decisions you make. This is critical since you must draft the prenup to be enforceable in that area.

The main determining factor should be your residence. If you and your spouse plan to reside in the US, you likely should make the United States the enforcing jurisdiction. Those who work in Florida or own property there also should have the prenup written for this jurisdiction.

If you plan to reside abroad, foreign counsel may be the appropriate party to draft the prenup. However, it’s important to protect yourself by also having a US attorney review it. You’ll want to incorporate some Florida state law provisions, too.


International Marriage and Separate Counsel

It’s important that you engage people from separate locations to help you draft a prenup. Quality Florida attorneys are an essential part of getting the documents in order. However, foreign counsel is also necessary so the prenup meets the laws of all jurisdictions where you have citizenship, residence, and/or property.

Even if Florida is the jurisdiction you chose, this is important because it ensures that all laws are addressed. Different nations will treat separate and marital assets differently. They’ll also divide up trusts in different ways.

In some nations, child custody is also a very different issue than it is in the US. For example, countries like Japan don’t have partial custody. One parent will get full custody in a divorce, usually the mother.

It’s critical that you take all of these things into account. To do this, you need legal insight from both nations that are relevant to your international prenuptial agreement form.

What to Put in a Prenup

Your international marriage prenup should include the same things that a domestic one will. A lawyer will help you comb through your assets and determine which are the most important to legally protect.

Then, you’ll sit down with your counsel and your spouse to discuss what your rights and responsibilities are regarding these assets. It’s critical to decide who gets what in the event of divorce or dissolution. It’s also important to determine who has the right to buy, sell, transfer, or otherwise get rid of any assets.

Debts and other liabilities are also necessary considerations. If you take on joint debt, the prenup should lay out how you plan to pay back these debts.

Alimony and child support are also critical conversations. If one spouse makes more money than the other, it’s especially important that you decide on what your responsibilities to the other one will be. Making a will and trust also is critical so that the surviving spouse can get appropriate support in the event that one passes away.

You also should make provisions for what will happen to any children and pets that you already have. You may not be able to predict the future, but securing the loved ones that you currently reside with can take a big burden off your shoulders and your relationship.

Talk With an Attorney Today

Now that you know how to protect your assets before an international marriage, it’s time to work with a legal team to create binding documents. Boyer Law Firm is committed to helping those marrying outside the country set up prenups and protect their interests in the event of a future divorce. Reach out to us to schedule a free consultation with our experienced team.

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