Prenuptial Agreements

Prenuptial Agreements

What is a Prenuptial Agreement?

 
A Prenuptial Agreement or prenup is an agreement made by a couple before they marry. The agreement sets out how they would like their assets divided in the unfortunate event that they should divorce.
 
It is a sad fact that about 50% of all marriages end in divorce and given the powers of the family courts to re-distribute family property, the Pre-nuptial Agreement is becoming increasingly popular in the UK.
 
When two people marry, all of a couple’s assets become matrimonial assets. A Prenuptial Agreement is designed to try and limit any claims on those assets by the other party if the marriage ends.
 

Why do I need a Prenuptial Agreement?

When one party is considerably more wealthier than the other before entering into marriage, a 50% share of all property and assets after divorce can often be seen as being unfair. There are numerous examples involing celebrities which often lose large chunks of their wealth due to a divorce settlement, which in some cases could have been avoided if a Prenuptial Agreement had been in place.

Without a pre-nuptial agreement in place a divorce court decison can be unpredictable. 
 
A pre-nuptial agreement that is agreed by both parties prior to marriage can help prevent the potential unfairness and uncertainty associated with the UK divorce courts
 
There are many reasons why people decide they want a Prenuptial Agreement, these include:
 
  • anyone with substantial business assets
  • those perhaps marrying again, wishing to safeguard assets for children from an earlier marriage
  • anyone concerned about “gold digging” from their new spouse should the marriage fail
  • those wanting to protect inherited assets
  • those wanted to protect property and assets overseas
  • Protect themselves against previously acquired debts
Is a Prenuptial Agreement enforceable?
 
In most situations yes. Courts will look to enforce the provisions of a prenuptial agreements provided that they have been drawn up properly by a solicitor. Please note that UK courts always retain the right to ignore some or all of the provisions of a prenuptial agreement if they feel it is unfair. In most cases however they are certainly taken into account and provide a very persuasive argument as well as having a significant bearing on the financial outcome of a case. The court will expect to see that adequate provisions have been made for any children and will have the power to take this into account when reaching it's decision.
 

How do I obtain a prenuptial agreement?

If you have decided to marry and would like a Pre-nuptial Agreement put in place then it is important not to leave it until the last minute. Both parties should give careful consideration as a rushed Pre-Nup is less likely to be upheld in Court than one carefully thought out on which has been signed a month or so before your marriage.

Both parties must first obtain independent legal advice. This will remove the argument, at a later date, that one party was put under undue pressure or they didn't realise what they were signing. Having professional legal advice can also provide you with information on circumstances which you may not have already considered.

Full disclosure of both party's finances must be made before the Prenuptial Agreement is prepared. We would recommend that you spend some time considering the terms of the agreement and try and make them as precise as possible.Give serious consideration to any likely changes in your circumstances during the marriage. For example if you are planning on having children, or if you are likely to inherit or indeed retire with a healthy pension.

As Pre-Nuptial Agreements can be changed with both party's consent so it is good practice to review your agreement every so often to make sure that it still meets your requirement and wishes.
 
If you are considering getting married and you are considering a prenuptial agreement contact one of our family solicitors solicitors who will be able to provide you with expert advice and guidance. Alternativel you can telephone us on 0333 2070 601
 

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