Russian Prenuptial Agreement

Russian Prenuptial Agreement and Marriage Agreement. What is it?

Prenuptial agreement (prenup) and postnuptial agreements (otherwise called marriage agreement or marriage contract) are two fairly similar legal instruments from the standpoint of the Russian family law. Both are governed by the same Chapter 8 of the Family Code of Russia, both, in fact, carry the name of a marriage agreement . The only difference between the two is the time they come into force. While a marriage agreement (concluded between a husband and wife) is effective immediately upon its execution and notarial certification, a prenuptial agreement signed by spouses-to-be and certified by a notary, comes into force once the parties enter into a valid marriage. Hereinafter both types will be called ‘prenuptial agreement’ for readers’ convenience.

A prenuptial agreement  is a contract that determines financial rights and obligations of the spouses (future spouses). It may not regulate any matters apart from those of strictly financial character. Such issues as parenting, child support and husband’s and wife’s duties of personal nature are beyond its scope. There are further limitations on the content of the marriage agreement. It may not restrict the legal capacity of husband and wife, contain any waivers of the right to challenge the contract in court or restrict the right of a disabled spouse to receive maintenance from the other.


Do I need my prenuptial agreement to be drafted under the Russian Law?

When do you need to consider getting a Russian lawyer advice to check the durability of your agreement

  • when at least one of the spouses is a Russian national;
  • when the couple resides in this country regardless of their nationality;
  • when spouses have assets there or income derived from Russian sources.


Specifics of the Russian Prenuptial Agreement

Russian marriage agreement may significantly differ from its counterparts in other jurisdictions. In what sense?

  • It may only govern financial issues between the spouses;
  • It may not cover any issues relating to children, including their shares in property or maintenance;
  • It doesn’t deal with inheritance matters;
  • It can’t restrict the legal capacity of a spouse;
  • It can’t limit the right of a disabled spouse to receive maintenance.


Basic formalities and Other Requirements

Entering into the agreement requires minimum formalities:

  • The presence of witnesses is not required.
  • Independent legal advice for each spouse, although highly advisable is, nevertheless, not legally mandatory.
  • Full disclosure of financial circumstances is not required or even customary.


Multijurisdictional Prenuptial Agreements

When it comes to a multijurisdictional agreement you do want to make sure it is scrutinised by lawyers in every relevant country. You want to avoid a situation where an agreement you worked so hard on tumbles down like a house of cards in the court of one of those jurisdictions.


When the agreement may be found void

An agreement may be found void on the grounds common to all contracts in general such as fraud or deceit, coercion and some other. Importantly, under the provisions of the Russian family law it is voidable if puts a party into an extremely unfavourable position. In other words, it has to be fair to both parties.

That being said, in almost two decades of their existence in Russian legal practice both proved to be durable legal constructions, as courts have been consistently reluctant to render marriage agreements and prenuptial agreements void.

© 2006-2014. Catherine Kalaschnikova. All rights reserved.
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