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Prenuptial agreements

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Prenuptial agreements

A prenuptial agreement is a document made by a couple before their marriage (or Civil Partnership) which sets out how their assets will be dealt with upon divorce/dissolution.

Prenuptial agreements

We take out life insurance as a sensible step in case the worst happens; we wouldn’t dream of driving a car without insurance and we certainly wouldn’t go skiing without travel insurance. In fact, everything we do in life is tied up in contracts and disclaimers. So why don’t we think the same way about marriage? In much of Europe and the US Pre-marriage (sometimes called Antenuptial or Prenuptial Agreements) have become the norm proving that they are not just for the rich and famous. However, in England and Wales we seem to be far more reserved often dismissing the idea of a prenuptial agreement as being as “unromantic and pessimistic”.

What is a Prenup?

A Prenuptial Agreement (also known as a ‘Pre Marriage Agreement’) is a document made by a couple before their marriage (or Civil Partnership) which sets out how their assets will be dealt with upon divorce/dissolution. They establish who comes out with what.

Why should I consider a Prenuptial Agreement?

A Prenup is not essential for everyone. However, if you find yourself in any of the following circumstances, or are concerned about any of these things, it is at least worth considering:

  • You want to protect pre-acquired assets or wealth;
  • There is a significant disparity in wealth or income between you and your partner;
  • You have been previously married and want to achieve as much certainty as possible for the financial outcome should your new relationship break down.
  • You would like to address a discrete issue that may arise, for example, how an investment in a business should be treated or what should happen to an inheritance.
  • You have been in a previous relationship or where there are children from previous relationships to consider;
  • You wish to avoid the unpleasantness of a free for all on finances after any relationship breakdown;
  • You want to avoid the costs and stress involved in trying to decide how assets are divided on separation when objectivity and reason may be in short supply;
  • You want to identify the resources to be called upon if challenging issues arise in the relationship, for example, a referral to see a family therapist, or to attend mediation.
  • To meet the requirements of relatives or trustees of family trusts;
  • For peace of mind.

Are they legally binding?

Following a landmark decision in the Supreme Court, in effect, prenuptial agreements are now binding unless they are considered by the court to be unfair. A list of factors has to be looked at by the court when considering the weight to be placed upon any prenuptial agreement in the event of a divorce such as whether any pressure was exerted upon the other to enter into the agreement amongst other things.

How our prenuptial agreement solicitors can help you avoid unnecessary conflict

A Prenuptial Agreement is a bespoke document and as such should always be drafted by an experienced family lawyer.

We take a solution-focused approach to helping you put in place a prenuptial agreement:

  • We will look at all the issues that may impact on the terms of the prenuptial agreement, and their importance to you and advise how to address these in the most appropriate, sensitive and cost-effective way;
  • We aim to adopt a non-adversarial approach to resolving matters and encourage use of the Collaborative model;
  • We will consider the options, provide you with guidance and advice and signpost you to helpful third parties to assist you through the process.

Our specialist team of prenuptial lawyers prefer to advise clients on pre-relationship agreements using the collaborative law model, as the process lends itself to open, honest discussions. The Collaborative Model can help achieve transparent, open and focused discussions where different scenarios can be ‘reality checked’ and decisions reached that both parties are comfortable with.

Contact our friendly, expert prenuptial agreement solicitors

If you would like an appointment with one of our specialists in Brighton, London, Horsham, Kent, Essex, North Hampshire & Surrey or South/Mid Hampshire then please contact us on 0330 055 2234.

Prenuptial agreement FAQs

What is a prenuptial agreement?

A prenuptial agreement, also known as a pre-marriage agreement, is a document made by a couple before their marriage (or Civil Partnership) setting out how their assets will be dealt with upon divorce/dissolution. Essentially, it sets out ‘who should come out with what’.

How much does a prenuptial agreement cost?

A prenuptial agreement is a bespoke document that should always be drawn up by a specialist in prenuptial law. To that end, the cost of a prenup can vary as the complexity of the agreement itself can vary. But it may be possible to agree a fixed-fee. Overall, for most couples, the upfront cost of putting in place a prenuptial agreement far outweighs the likely cost of a lengthy, or acrimonious divorce. A prenup can help provide certainty and transparency which is likely to help save thousands of pounds in legal fees in the future should the relationship break down.

How does a prenuptial agreement work?

A prenup works by documenting how you want to deal with certain assets that may already exist, or any assets that either of you may accrue in the future. Some people are often surprised to find out that certain assets can form part of the ‘matrimonial pot’ should their marriage or civil partnership end.

Where can I get a prenuptial agreement?

Again, we would always advise using a specialist family solicitor who is experienced in prenuptial laws. It is possible, of course, to work with your lawyer virtually to create this bespoke document, however simply purchasing a document or precedent/template online comes with real risk.

How long does a prenuptial agreement last?

In order for a prenuptial agreement to remain legally binding, it must be ‘reasonable and fair’.  It is therefore essential that a prenup is reviewed in the event of a significant change in circumstances (for example, the birth of a child or one party becoming unwell or unemployed). We also recommend that a review of the agreement takes place at least every 5 years to take account of any changes in the law and to ensure that the prenuptial agreement would still be considered fair.

Are prenuptial agreements legally binding?

Although nuptial agreements are not legally binding, as a result of case law, they are given significant weight by the Court if the agreement has been freely entered into, the parties have a full understanding of the implications of the agreement having provided full financial disclosure to one another and the agreement is considered to be fair.  It is also recommended that you enter into the pre-nuptial agreement at least 28 days prior to the marriage.

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