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Home >Money >Personal Finance >Prenuptial agreements are not valid in India

MUMBAI : Bill and Melinda Gates recently announced that they were getting divorced. Many articles were talking about how they will split assets in the absence of a prenuptial agreement.

A prenuptial agreement is a contract that talks about the wife's compensation if the couple decides to part ways.

Such agreements are not legally tenable in India as the law doesn't consider marriage as a contract.

Prenuptial agreements are prevalent in developed countries, such as the US and Australia. But in India, there are Supreme Court rulings that say any contract which has marriage as an object is null and void.

Around five years back, Maneka Gandhi, who was then the minister for women and child development, recommended D.V. Sadananda Gowda, then minister for law and justice, to make prenuptial agreements mandatory before marriage.

She recommended it as many women from low socio-economic backgrounds have to fight endless battles over alimony, marital ownership of property and assets during divorce.

While prenuptial agreements are not legally tenable in India, some business families still draw one. It is to offer clarity to the wife on what she would get in case of a divorce. Business families want to retain control of the business, and hence they do it. A prenuptial agreement may have some persuasive value if the divorce turns into a court battle, and it can avoid couples taking advantage of each other.

In a prenuptial agreement, both husband and wife state their assets, liabilities, insurance, and other financial aspects. They also specify the share and maintenance a wife would get in case of divorce. It can even go to the extent of stating the incremental amount that the husband would offer to the wife if they have children.

There are few takers for a prenuptial agreement in the country as many feel it may help divorce turning into a legal fight that can drag on for years.

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