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For an engaged couple, in addition to the beautiful preparations for the wedding, there are unfortunately also a few unpleasant – but important – points to discuss. One of them is, for example, the marriage contract. As unromantic as it sounds, it has an unjustifiably bad reputation. On the contrary: viewed objectively, it is more sensible and proactive to prevent a possible argument or bad feelings in the future.
If you are thinking about such a contract, you can find out more here (also about the marriage contract model). Because we have put together everything for you that you need to know.
Opinions on the marriage contract differ: some bridal couples perceive it as a breach of trust and absolutely unromantic, others would never get married without such an agreement and smile at the “dreamers”.
Whether you decide for or against a marriage contract is of course up to you. But we would also like to point out the advantages of a legally binding agreement in the event of a divorce.
We have divided this article into the following areas:
- What does a marriage contract regulate?
- When does a marriage contract make sense?
- Marriage contract: when to sign it?
- How do you make a prenuptial agreement?
- What does a marriage contract cost?
1. What does a marriage contract regulate?
The marriage contract regulates the personal relationships between the two spouses.
In most cases, the distribution of the money and the maintenance obligation (in the case of a divorce) are in the foreground. But other things, such as the distribution of roles in marriage, can also be included.
The “automatic” marriage contract
Strictly speaking, every couple enters into some kind of marriage contract. However, if you do not have an individual contract formulated, you will follow the regulations prescribed by law in the event of a separation and divorce.
That means: A couple without a marriage contract lives in the statutory property regime of the community of gains.
The married couple’s assets are considered separately. However, in the event of a divorce, the gain during the marriage is offset.
In addition, it is standard that the spouses are obliged to support each other. After the separation, those who cannot look after themselves are entitled to maintenance. The so-called pension equalization also ensures that acquired pension entitlements are equalized.
This regulation is therefore more tailored to the “sole provider marriage” that was common decades ago and is no longer up-to-date.
The three estates
There are three matrimonial property regimes in Germany that can be contractually defined. Without a marriage contract, the community of gains automatically applies after the wedding.
Community of profits
The community of gains means that everyone keeps their previous assets and manages them themselves. Everything that was built up in the marriage in terms of wealth is divided equally in the event of a divorce (inherited things and gifts are not included).
Segregation of property
In the event of a separation of property, the property will remain separate in the future and there is no compensation in the event of a divorce. Nevertheless, you can also buy things together, such as a house. It is important that both partners are actually listed as owners in the land register.
Community of property
In principle, the entire fortune of both spouses is lumped together here.
No matter how much money was owned prior to the wedding or generated within the marriage, the fortune belongs to both and would be split in half after a breakup.
Nowadays this condition of goods is less useful and is therefore hardly used any more.
2. When does a marriage contract make sense?
A marriage contract is particularly interesting for couples who have previously or in the future have very different incomes. In addition, high assets or debts and an expected inheritance are often the reason for a contract.
1. A partner is in debt
If a partner enters into the marriage with debts, a contractual arrangement can be made so that the repayment of the debt is added to the gain. Without a marriage contract, for example, the other partner may help to pay off the debts and may still end up empty-handed in the event of a divorce (although he may have made a lot during the marriage).
2. A partner is self-employed or owns his own company
If a partner has a company whose assets grow within the marriage, then in the event of a divorce without a marriage contract, half of the company’s increased assets would have to be given to the other partner or paid out – this could possibly mean ruin for the company.
The other way around, the partner who is not active as a business can also be protected from possible access by creditors.
A separation of property can provide for these cases.
3. Both are employed and want children
Married couples with children who both work and want to stay (with breaks) should ensure that there are joint arrangements. Because by planning and caring for children together, a partner’s professional career will not proceed in the way it would have been without children. The protection of post-marital maintenance and pension claims should therefore be regulated fairly.
3. Marriage contract: when to sign it?
You can enter into a marriage contract at any time. A contract can also be concluded, expanded or modified during the marriage.
Ideally, you should take six months before the wedding to tick off the subject of the marriage contract. The ideas and wishes do not always agree immediately – so you shouldn’t rush anything or argue about it.
Sit down as a couple and discuss together how you imagine the course of the marriage financially and how a separation would affect it. Take the opportunity to talk about worries and fears about the future.
If children are planned in marriage, one of the partners will have to put his professional future behind the common goals of the family.
Brainsorming should be about looking after each other together and not even letting a “conflict” arise in the first place. In the event of a dispute, this takes away a lot of potential for conflict. In the event of a divorce, it gives you the chance to part ways without a war of the roses for money.
4. How do you make a prenuptial agreement?
Basically everyone can set up a marriage contract with their future or already wedded partner. However, this only becomes valid if it has been concluded in a notarial form with both spouses present at the same time.
Ideally, you adapt a prenuptial agreement template to your own wishes. At Templates.de you will find a sample marriage contract, which you can change accordingly after downloading it.
Advice from a lawyer
Anyone who opts for a marriage contract can, however, first seek advice from a lawyer and work out an individual contract with them.
Signing with a notary
For the marriage contract to be legally valid, it must be signed by both partners at the notary. The subscription fees are based on your current wealth.
If a contract is concluded with the notary before the wedding, it only becomes valid with the marriage.
Incidentally, it also makes sense to seek advice from the notary regarding a will and a general power of attorney.
5. What does a marriage contract cost?
Here are a few rough guidelines about the cost of a prenuptial agreement for you. Of course, these differ from law firm to law firm and also depend very much on your wealth.
The legal fees for a marriage contract amount to approx. 100-200 € for the initial consultation.
When it comes to drawing up an individual contract, the costs are very different as they depend on your assets.
Example: If the total assets are around € 100,000, the legal fees are around € 3,000.
With a joint net worth of € 100,000, the costs of having the marriage contract notarized are around € 400-600.
Please note that this is not legal advice! We have only compiled the most important information for you.
If you have more specific questions, the best thing to do is to contact a lawyer or notary.
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