More on prenuptial agreements
I wish to thank the reader who sent the questions below concerning prenuptial agreements that form the basis of this week's article:
Can a woman sign away her rights? By this I mean, you mentioned that a woman can agree to not seek maintenance. Is this correct?
Yes. A woman (or man) may, in contemplation of marriage or cohabitation or to settle a dispute that has arisen between them during the course of their relationship, sign an agreement pursuant to section 24 of the Maintenance Act to settle the rights and obligations between each other for spousal or child support. In a real sense, either a man or a woman could sign away their right or obligation to seek maintenance, but only if that contract they sign complies with the provisions of that act.
Doesn't the woman automatically get the house?
No. Neither the man nor the woman will automatically get the house if the parties separate or get divorced. Unless one of the special circumstances under section 7 of Property (Rights of Spouses) Act (PROSA) exists to reduce the share of either party in that house, section 6 of PROSA provides that a dwelling house that is wholly owned by the woman or the man that was the principal place of residence for both parties during the marriage or cohabitation (the family home) each spouse shall be entitled to one-half share of that home.
Laws in some countries require a prenuptial agreement to be signed at least six months prior to marriage, if the man has no money. It is expected that when the man has money, the woman is going to get a substantial part of his assets, so it doesn't matter how much lead time exists before marriage, the agreement can be signed. How does 'lead time' impact a prenuptial agreement in Jamaica?
While I cannot speak with authority in relation to the laws of any other country, in Jamaica, PROSA and the Maintenance Act make no stipulation as to a specific period of time that must elapse between the signing of a prenuptial agreement before a marriage or the commencement of cohabitation.