Pre-Civil Partnership Agreements

What is a Pre-Civil Partnership Agreement?

A Pre-Civil Partnership Agreement is a formal contract entered into prior to entering into a civil partnership, which sets out what should happen if you were to dissolve the partnership or separate in the future. A Pre-Civil Partnership Agreement is the same-sex version of a Pre-nuptial agreement and gives you an opportunity to protect your pre-acquired assets, in the event of the Partnership breaking down. Particularly as recent case law (Gallagher –v– Lawrence) has shown that Civil Partnerships will be treated in a similar way to marriages when thinking about the distribution of pre-acquired assets. The agreement will also consider how your future finances will be distributed, plus any contact arrangements for children etc.

As Civil partnerships are a relatively new thing to English and Welsh Law, many in the legal profession have been waiting for a case to set the scene for future dissolutions. Gallagher v Lawrence was one of these cases. In this case the Court of Appeal decided that one of the parties was entitled to a share of the other parties assets that had been acquired by them prior to the relationship. This effectively gives a couple entering into a Civil partnership the same rights to each other’s assets as a married heterosexual couple.

This makes it even more important to draw up a pre-civil agreement so you can set out what each person’s financial circumstances are before the registration of the Civil Partnership, then set out what each person would like to happen to those assets in the event the Partnership is dissolved.

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Are Pre-Civil Partnership Agreements legally binding?

Add this to other case law, such as Radmacher and pre-marital agreements seem to be holding much more weight in court as long as they are entered into properly, with the benefit of independent legal advice and they are seen as being fair and reasonable. Case law governs the use of Pre-Civil Partnership Agreements, and in effect they will be recognised providing that;

  • Each party makes an informed decision under no duress
  • Each party knows the implications of the document they are signing
  • The Pre-Civil Partnership Agreement is entered into in good time before the Civil Partnership, generally 28 days (E.g. not the day before the ceremony!)
  • Full financial disclosure is given by both parties

As long as couples follow the guidelines, there is every chance a Court will take note of their wishes’ in the event of the relationship ending in dissolution’ and apply the terms of the Pre- Civil Partnership Agreement.

What steps should you take now?

Preparing a Pre-Civil Partnership Agreement is a relatively straightforward process and one that can give each partner financial peace of mind. We offer fixed fees for drawing up a straightforward Pre-Civil Partnership Agreement, so why not call us now to see how we can help you.

If you would like advice about Pre-Civil Partnership Agreements call us now.