The Law Of… Arranging A Pre-nup
As thoughts turn to planning the wedding and getting all the preparations in place for the big day, have you considered how to protect your existing assets should there be a risk of relationship breakdown?
With over 20 years of experience Jane Auty, Family Law Associate, guides you through the protection a pre-nuptial agreement can offer.
What Is A Prenuptial Agreement?
A prenuptial agreement (also known as a prenup) is a written document that is made before a couple gets married, and sets out how their financial assets and income should be divided if they were to get a divorce.
It sets out both of your rights to all of your possessions that were brought into the marriage or acquired individually – for example, either through inheritance or those that were purchased together.
In legal terms, once a couple is married all of their assets become matrimonial assets. If you decide to separate or divorce and do not have a prenuptial agreement in place, then the courts will make a decision about how your wealth should be split.
Couples entering into a civil partnership can make a pre-civil partnership agreement.
What Can A Prenuptial Agreement Cover?
Once you and your partner have decided to put an agreement in place, you need to both think carefully about what you would like to include in it.
The agreement can deal with the division of assets and income and outline how these should be dealt with if you were to get divorced. It can also set out how your assets are to be held during your marriage, and you may also want to consider how you would deal with a change in circumstances during your marriage – for example, what would happen in the event of illness, loss of income, children born in the future, and the acquisition of future assets.
No two prenuptial agreements will ever be the same, meaning that you can tailor it to fit your personal circumstances. It is important that the provisions in the agreement are clear, precise, and contain as much detail as possible – this is something that our Family lawyers can help you with.
Do I Need A Prenuptial Agreement?
If your answer to any of the following questions is yes, then it is a good idea to consider getting a prenuptial agreement:
- Are you getting married for the first time and worried that if it does not work out you could be financially worse off?
- If this is your second marriage, do you want to protect the financial settlement you received from your first marriage?
- Have you generated significant wealth during your working life and do you want to ensure you have something to leave in your will for your children?
- Are you concerned about a lengthy court dispute over your assets in the event your marriage was to come to an end?
- Are you a widower thinking about getting married again and would like to protect your possessions?
- Do you have a high earning capacity and wish to cap maintenance provisos, which in the event of divorce could be made to your partner?
If you are not sure whether a prenuptial agreement would be appropriate for your situation, our Family Law solicitors will be happy to offer you some advice – speak to us on 0808 129 3320.
What Are The Benefits Of Getting A Prenuptial Agreement?
Prenuptial agreements can be useful in providing some clarity during a divorce and can reduce some of the legal disputes between couples at what is a very difficult and emotional time.
Some of the benefits of prenuptial agreements include:
- Safeguarding your financial stability
- Protecting your children's future, ensuring that they receive the possessions that you would like them to have
- Reducing conflict during the process of separation – they can help to set ground rules for decisions relating to how your assets are divided
Are Prenuptial Agreements Binding?
Although the law does not currently recognise prenuptial agreements as binding, there is increasing momentum for the agreements to be recognised when looking at how a couple's assets should be divided during a divorce.
Generally, the court will look at the intention of the couple entering into a prenuptial agreement and will consider the following:
- Did you or your partner seek independent legal advice when making the agreement?
- Were you or your partner under pressure to sign the agreement?
- Did you both provide financial disclosure of your assets?
- Did the person who had the most to lose understand the terms of the prenuptial agreement?
- Would it be unfair if the prenuptial agreement was upheld?
Getting specialist legal advice from one of our Family Law solicitors during the process can help reduce the chances of the courts misinterpreting the clauses and ultimately how your assets are divided.
How Can I Get A Prenuptial Agreement?
You will both need to take independent legal advice from a specialist Family Law solicitor throughout the process.
Importantly, it also means that you both fully understand the terms of the agreement you reach and the person who has the most to lose understands the implications of the document they are about to sign.
You both need to provide full disclosure of your financial positions before the agreement is prepared. It is also a good idea to include a review of the agreement in the document so that you can reassess the clauses at specified periods during your marriage.
How Much Does A Prenuptial Agreement Cost And How Long Will It Take To Be Put In Place?
The costs of preparing a prenuptial agreement can range from £1,000 upwards, depending on the complexity of the financial arrangements and the length of the negotiations.
In the long term, having this agreement in place could reduce the stress and difficulties that some divorcing couples experience when trying to divide their possessions and income.
If you have decided to enter into a prenuptial agreement, you should ideally do this as soon as possible before your wedding as you will need to set aside some time to negotiate the agreement and ensure you both fully understand and agree to its terms.
The law commission recommends agreements should be entered into at least 28 days before the wedding, to avoid a situation arising where one member of the couple claims they made the agreement under duress.
How Can Simpson Millar's Family Law Solicitors Help Me?
Having a well-drafted document in place that clearly outlines your wishes can make a significant difference for a couple going through a divorce, as it relieves the burden of financial negotiations and ensures your family's future is protected.
Our Family Law solicitors, including prenuptial expert Jane Auty, can offer you specialist advice and assistance with creating an agreement that meets your specific needs.
Call one of our specialist solicitors today, or get in touch using our online enquiry form.
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