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'I do', to prenup agreements

Prenups can be produced as ?evidence? in cases where marriages go awry, writes Sushmita Bose.

india Updated: Jan 22, 2006 01:18 IST

Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston not having signed one or Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie thinking about signing one are not reasons why clued-into-Hollywood, urban Indians are thinking about pre-nuptial agreements. They are thinking: better safe than sorry.

A New Delhi-based lawyer drew out a ‘prenup’ for a couple who tied the knot in January. The lawyer maintained that prenups cannot be “executed” in a court of law, but admitted that they may be produced as “evidence” in cases where marriages go awry and divorce settlements look messy.

Mumbai-based Dr Rajan Bhonsle, who started India’s first full-fledged “pre-marital” counselling clinic, Heart to Heart Counselling Centre, agrees, adding that the last ten months has seen him tackle at least 15 such cases where patients wanted to know about prenups. “Even parents of would-be brides and bridegrooms wanted to find out about prenups,” he says. He adds that all the cases have been from the economically prosperous section.

There’s the Indian Contract Act, says Vikas Pahwa, advocate, Supreme Court, that takes into account any “agreement” that is signed by two parties as long as it’s not ‘unlawful’. So if two people draw out a memorandum of understanding, and there’s a divorce, the contents of the agreement will be taken into consideration. “It’s a pessimistic way of planning out a marriage, but it could serve as a practical solution, particularly for women, so that chances of suffering from financial/property hassles are reduced.”

Advocate Rakesh Pathak thinks a prenup is “scientific”. “Indians need time to mature to these kind of realities,” he says. There are cases where a girl transfers her own shares in her father’s company to her husband’s name, and in case of a divorce, the man gets to keep that “asset”. “A prenup would go a long way in settling that.”

First Published: Jan 22, 2006 00:44 IST