Question concerning prenuptial agreement

Is a marriage between two baptized Christians who are not Catholic invalid if a prenuptial agreement is involved?

Interesting question. I’d think yes, b/c having a pre-nup implies the couple are open to divorce and thus are not entering into a valid union. In that case it would be similar to a man getting a vasectomy while he is engaged. But, I’d be interested to hear from someone with more info, especially from Canon Law.

The Catholic Church assumes *all *marriages valid until investigated by a Tribunal and found to be invalid. So, even with a pre-nup, the marriage is presumed valid. The only way to prove the marriage invalid is if the couple divorced and one of them applied and received a Decree of Nullity.

I could not tell you with one hundred percent certainty;however, I can give you my best inference. Prenuptial agreements are not allowed in the Catholic Church. There is no reason to plan out what will happen if a couple gets divorced because the marriage is indissoluble if entered into validly. If a Catholic couple were to draft and sign a prenup then the marriage would be invalid because they are proclaiming that they will not promise to stay together forever. Now, there are two kinds of marriage, natural and sacramental. Both natural and sacramental marriages are valid and indissoluble, though sacramental marriages are raised to the dignity of a sacrament. Canon law points this out-

[quote=Canon 1055 §1.] The matrimonial covenant, by which a man and a woman establish between themselves a partnership of the whole of life and which is ordered by its nature to the good of the spouses and the procreation and education of offspring, has been raised by Christ the Lord to the dignity of a sacrament between the baptized.
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[quote=Canon 1056]The essential properties of marriage are unity and indissolubility, which in Christian marriage obtain a special firmness by reason of the sacrament.
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This is why even natural marriages must be nullified by an annulment after a divorce if the person is to go on to marry a Catholic or become Catholic them self and remarry. Anyway, a marriage between two baptized persons-and any valid marriage for that matter-is considered indissoluble and lifelong. A prenup would undermine this and I would argue make a marriage between two baptized non-Catholics invalid just as it would for Catholics.

I don’t believe this is exactly true.

When a Catholic marries outside the Church without the proper dispensation of his ordinary, the marriage is presumed to be invalid.

Secondly, the marriage, even if presumed to be valid, might still be invalid. The decree of nullity does not make a marriage invalid, it just recognizes that the marriage was always invalid. So the pre-nup could still invalidate the marriage even if it is presumed to be valid (i.e. the presumption of validity would be wrong and the couple could receive an annulment.)

Can you cite a source for this claim?

It would be odd for people who feel the need to have prenuptial agreements to be married in the Catholic Church, which does not allow divorce. I could see it being a concern in Christian denominations which do allow divorce, I.e. The Orthodox Church.

Code of Canon Law #1102

Can. 1102 §1 Marriage cannot be validly contracted subject to a condition concerning the future.

In the twentieth century everyone in the province of Quebec had a prenup. If you know anything about the province it was mostly French and Catholic. These people used to be very devout. This didn’t seem to be at all at odds with having a valid Catholic marriage. There are many reasons someone may need to separate and protect their assets. The church in the US may not approve but other Catholics do have prenups in a valid marriage.

From your first point, we aren’t talking about Catholics. The OP specifically said the couple are Christian, but not Catholic.

In your second point you nicely stated the catch. Any marriage might be invalid, but has to be presumed valid until the Tribunal completes it’s investigation and renders a decision. Those outside the marriage Tribunal cannot say for sure one way or the other. Maybe I thought my friends marriage invalid because she didn’t have children and I believed she wasn’t open to life. Imagine my shock if I were to find out she or her husband were infertile. Maybe I think a marriage is invalid because one of the parties is extremely immature and cannot possibly understand what he/she is consenting to. But do I really know what is going on in that head? Nope.

Yes, a pre-nup can make a marriage invalid but it does not necessarily make a marriage invalid.

For example, what if the couple went into the marriage with the belief that marriage was a lifetime covenant and the pre-nup only existed to pacify a concerned parent or grandparent? For those in business, a board of directors or a partner may insist on a pre-nup to protect company assets in case of a divorce even though the parties marrying have no intention of ever divorcing. Individual circumstances and reasoning at the time of the marriage make a huge difference. Which is why marriages are seen as valid unless/until proven otherwise via Tribunal investigation.

As I just replied to another poster, not necessarily. Again, there could be mitigating circumstances such as business partners or relatives insisting on a pre-nup to protect business or family assets even though the couple marrying have a perfect understanding of the Catholic view of marriage and agree to that view at the time of their marriage.

There may very well be Catholics married with a pre-nup, but they’re not valid by Church standards. Popular custom doesn’t change canon law.

[quote=sscott]In the twentieth century everyone in the province of Quebec had a prenup. If you know anything about the province it was mostly French and Catholic. These people used to be very devout. This didn’t seem to be at all at odds with having a valid Catholic marriage. There are many reasons someone may need to separate and protect their assets. The church in the US may not approve but other Catholics do have prenups in a valid marriage.
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[quote=seagal]There may very well be Catholics married with a pre-nup, but they’re not valid by Church standards. Popular custom doesn’t change canon law.
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“The truth is the truth even if nobody believes it, and error is error even if every everyone believes it.”-Venerable Fulton Sheen.:thumbsup:

[quote=MJJean]As I just replied to another poster, not necessarily. Again, there could be mitigating circumstances such as business partners or relatives insisting on a pre-nup to protect business or family assets even though the couple marrying have a perfect understanding of the Catholic view of marriage and agree to that view at the time of their marriage.
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Regarding a business partner wanting a prenup to protect the business…When one becomes a partner in a business he must recognize that in having a partner a person already has an inherent risk and if they don’t like it perhaps they should either go into business on their own or reestablish the business as an LLC or Corporation. Yes, my statement was too broad in that I failed to mention that not all prenups have to do with divorce but I was speaking about the vast majority of them. To my knowledge the only allowable prenups are ones that do not deal with divorce. Regardless, you would want to talk to a priest about a prenup before you get married to ensure the validity of the marriage. Lastly, I am not claiming to have the authority of a tribunal I was just giving my two cents.

Zooman

I’m not a canon lawyer, but I don’t agree with your interpretation of the canon. The marriage itself is not subject to a condition concerning the future, the property is subject to a condition concerning the future. If it’s so certain that a prenup automatically nullifies any marriage, I’m sure a more explicit and authoritative interpretation can be found.

well, I am going through the annulment process in Ontario, Canada as we speak, and I do know for a fact, that having a prenuptial agreement is one of the reasons that a marriage can be found to be void by the tribunal up here…not sure if it’s one of the valid reasons anywhere else, but I assume it would be, since we all follow the same Catholic teachings…

now here’s my situation…I am 46, divorced but going through an annulment and have found a man, also divorced and going through an annulment, whom I would like to remarry in the church…we both attend mass and confession regularly (roman catholic) and the priest in our parish knows us very well and understands our situation…we don’t live together but I do stay at his place on weekends…

our financial situations are quite different…I own my own house (he is part owner with his dad) and have no debts other than my mortgage…he on the other hand has lots (from divorce payout etc.)…I have RRSP’s (retirement savings like the US 401K)…he does not…I have a teacher’s pension and great salary (he does not)…

we have tons in common (music, food, reading, church, dancing, motorcycling) and at this age and after 4 years of being alone (I dated a bit but not much out there in the sense of a good catholic boy with the interests I have) I feel I have found someone I would like to grow old with…

now having said that, I also want to protect the investments/savings I have worked hard for all my life and am not so willing to give up half so easily at this point…

other than it being a ground for annulment, wouldn’t anyone else here want to make sure they had a prenup to safeguard their financial future…especially in light of us being such opposites in that department?

When you marry someone (and I speak myself as a married man) that’s it, your married…for life. There is no “what if x”. That possibility doesn’t even exist. Period. Besides, “for better or for worse” can in some cases be for worse. That’s just apart of marriage.

As others have stated, a pre-nup does not necessarily fun afoul of canon law.

A pre-nup does not necessarily mean your open to divorce. First, the Church allows legal separation. In other words, it allows the very thing the pre-nup contemplates. Second, your spouse can leave you without your consent. In other words, a pre-nup can be triggered even if you’re 100% opposed to divorce under any circumstance. Being opposed to poor health doesn’t mean I shouldn’t get health insurance.

Of course a pre-nup would run afoul of canon law if it were a condition to marriage but that’s easy to avoid. A pre-nup can be as simple as listing your respective pre-marital properties.

So my advice is for everyone to get a pre-nup but ensure that it doesn’t place conditions to marriage. In fact, put that in the pre-nup.

[quote=johnmann]As others have stated, a pre-nup does not necessarily fun afoul of canon law.

A pre-nup does not necessarily mean your open to divorce. First, the Church allows legal separation. In other words, it allows the very thing the pre-nup contemplates. Second, your spouse can leave you without your consent. In other words, a pre-nup can be triggered even if you’re 100% opposed to divorce under any circumstance. Being opposed to poor health doesn’t mean I shouldn’t get health insurance.

Of course a pre-nup would run afoul of canon law if it were a condition to marriage but that’s easy to avoid. A pre-nup can be as simple as listing your respective pre-marital properties.

So my advice is for everyone to get a pre-nup but ensure that it doesn’t place conditions to marriage. In fact, put that in the pre-nup.
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In response to your post and everyone else, here is Father Serpa’s answer-
forums.catholic.com/showthread.phpt=689568&highlight=prenuptial

and here-forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?t=203402&highlight=prenuptial

and Jim Blackburn’s answer here-forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?t=8742&highlight=prenuptial

Zooman

ifiddles said:

“…our financial situations are quite different…I own my own house (he is part owner with his dad) and have no debts other than my mortgage…he on the other hand has lots (from divorce payout etc.)…I have RRSP’s (retirement savings like the US 401K)…he does not…I have a teacher’s pension and great salary (he does not)…”

Are you happy with how he manages what money he has? Does he have a good work ethic? How is he doing with his debt repayment?

If he is hard-working, paying off the debt aggressively, and a careful money manager, I think you’re going to be OK, even without a prenup. On the other hand, if he doesn’t have a good work ethic, he’s letting the debt just pile up, and he’s careless and disorganized with money, you’re not going to have a great marriage or a great life, even if you have a prenup.

I would encourage the two of you to iron out your financial differences before deciding to get married. He sounds like a fun guy, but if you feel that you are carrying the household on your shoulders, you are eventually going to be really ticked off at him.

How about taking a personal class together?

For those arguing that pre-nups are ok for Catholics, you really ought to read those links as they all strongly suggest otherwise. Pre-nups strike are a sign that someone is not thinking about marriage with a Catholic worldview.

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