A prenuptial agreement is a contract signed before a marriage, setting out what should happen in the event the marriage doesn’t work out. It is also possible to enter into a prenuptial agreement before forming a civil partnership, so the comments below in relation to prenuptial agreements apply equally to civil partnerships.
- Prenuptial agreements have increasingly been given more weight and consideration by the courts;
- The Supreme Court have recently said that, subject to certain requirements being met, prenuptial agreements should bind parties unless it would not be fair to uphold the agreement;
- Prenuptial agreements are likely to be upheld by the Courts as long as they are deemed to be fair and do not prejudice the reasonable requirements of any children of the marriage.
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.
Why should I consider a Prenuptial Agreement?
A prenuptial agreement might be appropriate for you where: –
- 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.
A cohabitation agreement might be appropriate for you for all the same reasons listed above for pre-nuptial agreements. Additionally, the relevant law used to determine disputes between cohabitants in relation to the property they own, or an interest claimed in solely owned property, is complex and very expensive to litigate.
Different types of Prenuptial Agreements
There are a number of common pre-relationship agreements that our clients enter into:
- A prenuptial agreement is an agreement between parties who are contemplating entering into a marriage or civil partnership.
- A cohabitation agreement (sometimes called a ‘Living Together Agreement’) where the parties do not intend to marry or enter a civil partnership but nonetheless recognise that their relationship would benefit from being clear about their respective capital interests and responsibility for living expenses.
- Declarations of Trust in respect of property holdings which can be stand alone or used alongside pre-nuptial agreements or cohabitation agreements.
We prefer to facilitate pre-relationship agreements using the collaborative model if possible so there can be honest and open discussions, and likely agreements can be reality checked. The Collaborative Model is the ideal forum to ensure the discussions are transparent, open and focused, thereby avoiding any feeling of mistrust.
Our team of family specialists will advise you on the most appropriate route to negotiating a prenuptial agreement.We will also discuss with you whether you may benefit from the involvement of a family consultant to manage the emotional challenges of negotiating such agreements and ensure your hopefully happy and long-lasting relationship starts with strong emotional foundations.