If you don’t have an ANC, you are automatically married in community of property. This means that there is one estate between a husband and a wife. Everything is shared equally between spouses, which includes debts. However, with an antenuptial contract, the estates of each spouse remain separate. The difference comes with the addition of the accrual system.
What is an antenuptial contract?
An ANC determines whether a marriage will be out of community of property with/without the accrual system. It must be signed by the persons entering into a marriage, two witnesses and a notary public, and it must be registered in the Deeds Registries office within the prescribed time period.
What is the accrual system?
The accrual system is a formula that is used to calculate how much the spouse with the larger estate must pay the smaller estate if the marriage comes to an end through death or divorce. Only property acquired during the marriage can be considered when calculating the accrual.
- If there is no accrual system, then the spouses have their own estates which contain property and debts acquired prior to and during the marriage – nothing is shared.
- The underlying philosophy of the accrual system is that each spouse is entitled to take out the asset value that he or she brought into the marriage, and then they share what they have built up together.
- The accrual system only applies if the marriage ends – either by divorce or death. You cannot claim your share of the joint estate while you’re still married.
Whether or not you decide to include the accrual system in your antenuptial contract depends on the couple. Some may see the relevance while others do not.
It’s important that both of you consult the lawyer who’s drawing up the ANC because both spouses need to be fully aware of the consequences. It’s also important to see someone who’s neutral, and who can mediate what goes into your ANC, because emotions can cloud your judgment, and it can be a stressful negotiation if one spouse has a lot of assets and the other doesn’t, for example.
This article is a general information sheet and should not be used or relied on as legal or other professional advice. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions nor for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information herein. Always contact your legal adviser for specific and detailed advice. Errors and omissions excepted (E&OE)