Prenuptial Agreements

What is a Prenuptial Agreement?

A Prenuptial Agreement (Prenup) is a formal contract entered into prior to marriage or a civil partnership, which sets out what should happen if you were to divorce or separate in the future.

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Are Prenuptial Agreements legally binding?

Prenups are not legally binding in the UK, but since a case called Radmacher, properly entered into agreements are much more persuasive on the court. Prenuptial agreements can be very important where there is a disparity of assets being brought into a marriage, or one or other party sacrifices their position for the family, such as when the husband or wife give up work to raise the children.

Where the marriage is relatively short and there are no children, then a properly entered into prenup is likely to be of great significance. The longer the marriage and the more children there are, the prenup will have less significance. What a pre-nup will not do is prevent either party from asking the court to give them anything different than what was agreed in the prenup.

When considering a division of assets the court always has an obligation to consider all the relevant circumstances of your case and to decide what is fair and reasonable and it is a matter for the courts discretion as to what, if any weight, it gives to completed agreements. However there is no doubt that prenuptial agreements are becoming more and more relevant to decisions made by English courts. At the very least, providing all the proper pre-agreement criteria have been met, then the fact of the existence of an agreement acts as a starting point for the court, particularly if your circumstances have not changed very much or if the relationship has been a very short one.

How do you make your Prenuptial Agreement more "persuasive"?

It is important to consider the questions a court will ask about the pre-nup so as to make your agreement bear as much weight as possible, if in the future your relationship unfortunately does end in divorce or separate.

  • How soon before the wedding was the prenuptial agreement signed?
  • Was any pressure placed on the parties to sign it?
  • How was it negotiated?
  • Was there any negotiation at all, or was the agreement imposed on one party?
  • Was there full and frank disclosure of the finances of both parties?
  • Did both parties receive completely separate and independent legal advice?

They will also want to ensure that full “financial disclosure” was given by each person prior to the agreement being drawn up. This means that each person must have given each other all financial details of salaries, savings, investments, property ownership, pension policies, debts etc so that the court believes the agreement was based on full financial knowledge at the time of signing the prenup.

What steps should I take now?

If you are thinking of entering into a prenup, it is something that needs to be approached with great delicacy and tact. We always recommend you seek independent advice as soon as you possibly can and certainly well before your intended marriage or civil partnership ceremony. We also recommend you talk to your partner about it to make sure it is something you both want to do. We are here to give you initial advice and we can then help you draw up a prenuptial agreement that you and your partner are happy with. We usually provide this service on a Fixed Fee basis, so call us now to discuss how we can help you.

If you would like advice about Prenuptial Agreements call us now.