Prenuptial Agreements - Love Actually in Writing?

Tis’ the season of “peace on earth and goodwill to all men” (and women) - and with it of course comes mistletoe, ‘Love Actually’ and marriage proposals.

As a time full of joy, festive celebrations, family and loved ones, it’s easy to understand why December is the most popular month for couples to get engaged, with Christmas Eve being the ultimate date of choice to ask that all-important question.

So, once you’ve screamed “Yes - I’ll marry you” from the rooftops, what about that next important question; will you be getting a Prenuptial agreement?

For many, the idea of getting a Prenup is a contradiction to the whole concept of marriage. The romance of the ‘happily ever after fairy tale’ is replaced with financial disclosure, negotiation and legal advice to protect your assets.

However, it’s important to consider that behind the big white wedding is probably the biggest contract you and your partner will ever enter - marriage.

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What Saying “I Do” Means

From the moment you’re married, the legal status of both people changes from single to married. In simple terms, you agree to share everything - whether you keep your assets and liabilities physically separate or not.

The starting point on sharing capital for the Court is a 50/50 split - and with 42% of marriages in England and Wales ending in divorce, many people consider it worth ring-fencing their pre-marital assets and inheritance in a Prenup agreement.

Under current English law, Prenup agreements are not legally binding.

However, following the Supreme Court decision in Radmacher v Granatino (2010), prenuptial agreements are treated as a relevant circumstance of the case and often given substantial weight by the Judge when deciding an appropriate division of assets in a divorce.

So, if you’re thinking of entering a prenuptial agreement, below are a few initial key points to consider:

  • Do you have enough time? You should enter your Prenup agreement at least 28 days before your wedding day. This means you need to start talking to a Family Solicitor well before this.

  • Do you understand what you are signing? You and your partner must both get independent legal advice to ensure the agreement stands up.

  • Do you feel pressurised into signing an agreement? In order for the agreement to be valid, it must be entered of your own free will. Where there is undue influence, the agreement is very unlikely to be upheld by the Court.

  • Is the Prenup agreement fair? Your circumstances are likely to change with a family, and what is fair for you now may not be fair in the future.

Hopefully after your Prenup agreement is signed and sealed, it can be like one of those unwanted Christmas presents that you and your spouse-to-be put in a bottom draw and forget all about (as you live happily married ever after).

Peace of mind is not just for Christmas.

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