Prenuptial Agreements

A prenuptial agreement, also known as a ‘prenup’, is a agreement that is created between a couple before they marry or enter into a civil partnership. It includes details about what will happen in the event of a divorce or separation and covers aspects relating to children, finances and property that they share.

Pre-civil partnership agreements are similarly available to couples who instead intend enter into a civil partnership.

Here at 1Solicitors, we understand that a prenuptial agreement isn’t the most romantic activity that you can do whilst planning a marriage. However, they are sometimes able to save your own assets if in the unfortunate case that the marriage breaks down.

Changes in society and work-life patterns have contributed towards an increase in marriage breakdowns. By entering into a prenuptial agreement, parties can have certainty on where they stand in respect to the division of assets if the marriage breaks down.

This is why we have a team of expert prenuptial agreements lawyers that can help to draft and organise your premarital contract.

Whether you’re looking to write your agreement or decide on how finances can be settled after a divorce, we’re sure that we can help!

Do I need a prenuptial agreement?

Whilst many couples assume that their marriage will never end and they’ll never need a prenuptial agreement, it may be worthwhile to sign one before your big day in the hope of never being needed to be relied on or to provide parties with certainty in the event of a separation

Pre-nuptial agreements help to protect yourself in the worst-case scenario and ensures that what is yours, stays yours. It also allows you to have a degree of control over what will happen in the event of a separation.

You should especially consider creating a prenup agreement with your partner if you have a substantial amount of savings or are expecting a large inheritance that you don’t want to risk losing or splitting.

Prenuptial agreements maybe considered where you wish to:

  • ensure you retain control of a business
  • Set out which assets will be divided or surrendered, if resources permit. For example, you may want to agree that in the event of a separation, you and partner agree to give-up ownership of the matrimonial home which will be transferred to the children equally or held in trust until they reach
  • Protect your inheritance: Your parents may also want to protect their wealth which you stand to inherit
  • It is not uncommon for parents that have built a significant wealth to want to ensure their wealth which stands to be inherited by their children is unaffected by a separation. At 1solicitors we have consulted with large-scale family businesses where the intention has been to ring fence that asset within a Pre nup agreement.
  • Provision financial arrangements for child of previous relationships or intended children of the civil partnership or in a way that avoids the monies being frittered away to support your partners finances after a separation
  • Ring-fence all or specific assets from being shared in the event of a separation
  • Set out rights in which a divorce cannot be contested if brought by either you or your partner. For example, if your partner refuses to an agreement made to adopt children in the future then he/she agrees not to contest a divorce brought by you for that reason

Pre-nuptial agreements should also be considered if you have children from a previous relationship and want to ensure that you have assets left for them.

Things to include in a premarital agreement

When it comes to writing your prenuptial agreement, you will need to consider everything that you’d like to keep once the separation or divorce has been processed. This includes factors such as:

  • Details of what will happen with joint bank accounts
  • Who will manage expenses and/or other household bills
  • Details of how savings contributions will be managed
  • Details of how finances relating to your children will be shared

You may want to also consider including:

  • Personal and business assets
  • Property and investments
  • Inherited assets
  • Overseas interests
  • Protection from previous debts

You should especially consider creating a prenup agreement with your partner if you have a substantial amount of savings or are expecting a large inheritance that you don’t want to risk losing or splitting.

Things you can’t include in a nuptial agreement

Because a Court will make the final decision on certain aspects of a marriage breakdown, details of how custody of any children shared will be arranged after the divorce and should not be included in a prenuptial agreement.
This is because child arrangement orders may be given in certain circumstances, meaning that the solution explained in your agreement cannot be granted.

Can prenuptial agreements be changed after marriage?

Yes providing both parties are in agreement and the changes are made by independent family lawyers in the conformed prescriptive manner.

Prenups should also be reviewed if circumstances change, such as illness, unemployment or the birth of a child. Amending prenuptial agreements after marriage may actually strengthen the validity of the arrangement.

Are pre-nup agreements legal?

While nuptial agreements are recognisably enforceable in many countries outside of the UK, the present legal position in England and Wales is that they are not legally binding under any statutory provision although there is a growing recognition of these agreements being upheld by Courts.

It wasn’t since the recent Radmacher vs. Granatino case in 2010 until pre- and post-nuptial agreements had considerable weight in a divorce case. Since that landmark case, Courts are more likely to agree to consider nuptial agreements if certain safeguards have been put into place.

What are the key components to a valid prenuptial agreement?

• Providing full and frank disclosure of all material information and assets by both parties
• Each party must have a clear understanding of intentions of the agreement and associated implications. The agreement must be then signed by both solicitors.
• The agreement must be entered into freely. Agreements should be entered into at least 28 days before the marriage; failing which they are unlikely to be valid
• Cannot unreasonably prejudice the position of any children of the family
• Pre-nuptial agreements that ring-fence non-matrimonial assets are more likely to be seen as ‘fair’.
• The Court should not override any terms agreed by the couple without a valid reason.
• An element of fairness subject to the circumstances. Pre-nuptial agreements that address unknown/future contingencies are likely to be considered unfair.

The above guidelines have been supported by the 2014 Law Commission.

A properly prepared agreement can be highly persuasive to the financial outcome of a case.

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