A Prenuptial Agreement, also known as prenup, is a document that couples may choose to have drawn up just before they get married. It sets out how matters such as finances, children, property and even pets would be dealt with in the event of a breakdown in the marriage.
Our lawyers are specialists in Prenuptial Agreements, having advised countless couples starting a life together. We are able to tailor this contract in order to fit the unique aspects of your relationship, which is designed to put your mind at rest, knowing that everything is taken care of should the worst come to happen.
Frequently asked questions
What are Prenuptial Agreements?
Prenups are there to help rather than hinder your marriage. They offer reassurance to both parties regarding how finances would be settled, how their assets would be divided, and overall, how they would be protected in the event of a breakdown in the relationship.
In some circumstances, such an agreement is also able to detail how the couple plans on using their assets and resources throughout their marriage.
In essence, a Prenuptial Agreement sets out what is to be regarded as joint or separate property. Joint (or matrimonial) property often includes assets and property held by both parties in joint names or acquired during the marriage, while separate (or non-matrimonial) property tends to include assets obtained prior to the marriage, inherited assets, and gifts received by one party during the marriage.
The purpose of a prenup is to provide clarity, security, and certainty for the parties. It also limits the unpredictability and emotional stress in the event of divorce or dissolution proceedings.
Do prenups include child arrangements?
Prenuptial Agreements rarely set out the practical arrangements for children should the couple come to divorce. As such, couples may want to consider a Parenting Agreement alongside a Prenuptial Agreement.
Are Prenuptial Agreements only for marriages?
No, the concept of prenups is not limited to marriages. Potential civil partners may enter into a pre-civil partnership, which serves the same purpose.
Are Prenuptial Agreements legally binding?
No, Prenuptial Agreements are not legally binding in England and Wales. However, as long as certain criteria are met, they can be regarded by courts as very persuasive evidence of how finance ought to be divided throughout divorce.
Ideally though, you would not be put in the position where a court must consider a pre-nuptial agreement. That is because if an agreement is properly formed and kept up to date so as to reflect the parties’ latest needs and wishes, they should be able to settle finances without going anywhere near a courtroom. For this reason, it is important to prepare your prenup alongside an experienced solicitor so as to ensure that the contract is valid and capable of protecting you properly.
How enforceable are Prenuptial Agreements?
A few years ago, a landmark case paved the way to greater enforceability in English courts. As such, Prenuptial Agreements can be considered by a court when a couple who is splitting up has met the following conditions:
- Both parties freely signed the agreement after taking legal advice from independent solicitors
- There was full disclosure of the parties’ assets
- There were no significant changes after the agreement was signed – such as the birth of a child – in which case the agreement would have to be amended and re-signed
- The agreement was completed and signed at least 21 clear days before the marriage takes place
How can prenups be beneficial?
Prenups can be beneficial in many ways. They can protect you and your partner should ever there be a deterioration in your relationship by protecting certain assets, such as those of great sentimental value or those acquired before meeting your partner.
In normal circumstances, during a divorce, all relevant property is expected to go into the pot of marital assets and should then be divided up between the parties. This would include a business which you have built up yourself. As such, Prenuptial Agreements can also protect those with business assets, as they can help prevent them from being included in the marital pot.
Prenuptial Agreements are particularly helpful to those entering into a second marriage as it is more likely that these clients will have assets or children from a previous marriage.
I am already married. Can I still get a prenup?
Sort of. While a prenup is designed to be signed before marriage, it is still possible to get the same protections it offers if you are already married. Such an agreement is known as a Postnuptial Agreement. Both are very similar, but the latter is agreed after you and your partner are already married.