Getting a sure start in your marriage.
A prenuptial agreement is a document couples may choose to have drawn up just before they get married. The agreement sets out how things like finances, children, property and even pets will be dealt with should there ever be a breakdown in the marriage.
At Grayfords we are prenuptial agreement specialists and we have advised countless couples venturing into this exciting chapter of their lives. Our prenuptial agreement solicitors in London tailor the agreement to fit the unique aspects of your relationship, putting your mind at rest knowing that everything is taken care of should the worst happen.
What are pre-nuptial agreements?
These are actually to help rather than hinder the marriage in that they offer reassurance to the parties as to how finances would be settled and how they would be protected in the event of a breakdown in the relationship.
These agreements often detail how the parties would prefer their assets be divided in the event of a divorce or separation at a later date. In some circumstances the agreement could detail how the couple plan on dividing/using their assets and resources during the course of the marriage.
A pre-nuptial agreement will set out what is to be regarded as joint or separate property. Joint (or matrimonial) property usually includes assets and property held by both parties in joint names or acquired during the marriage (though this not always the case). Separate (or non-matrimonial) property typically includes assets obtained prior to the marriage, assets that have been inherited, and gifts received by one party during the course of the marriage.
Pre-nuptial agreements rarely set out the practical arrangements for children following the breakdown of the relationship (though they can and often do include financial arrangements) so it may be that couples wish to consider a Parenting Agreement alongside a pre-nuptial agreement.
The purpose of a pre-nuptial agreement is to 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.
The concept of pre-nuptial agreements is not limited to marriages. Potential civil partners may enter into a pre-civil partnership agreement which serves the same purpose.
Are pre-nuptial agreements legally binding?
Pre-nuptial agreements are not legally binding in England and Wales. However, so long as certain criteria are met, they can be regarded by courts as very persuasive evidence of how finances ought to be divided. Ideally though, a court would never have to consider a pre-nuptial agreement: if an agreement is properly formed and kept up to date so it reflects the parties’ needs and wishes, they should be able to settle finances without going anywhere near a courtroom. For this reason, it is vitally important that you consult an experienced solicitor in relation to a pre-nuptial agreement: without expert advice, your agreement may not be worth the paper it is written on, leaving you entirely without protection.
Many people worry about just how enforceable prenuptial agreements are, however, a landmark case a few years ago has paved the way to greater enforceability in English courts. Such agreements can be considered by a court when a couple splits as long as the following conditions are met: Both parties freely sign the agreement after taking legal advice from independent solicitors; Full disclosure of the parties’ assets takes place; No significant changes take place after the agreement – such as the birth of a child – in which case the agreement would have to be amended and re-signed; and the agreement is completed and signed at least 21 clear days before the marriage takes place.
Prenuptial agreements are beneficial for several reasons. Firstly, they can protect you both should ever there be a deterioration in your relationship; the agreement can protect certain assets, for instance those of great sentimental value or acquired before having met your partner. Those with business assets can protect them by using a prenuptial agreement. In a divorce all property will go into the pot of marital assets to be divided up during the divorce – even a business you’ve built up yourself over many years. Prenuptial agreements are particularly helpful for those who are entering into a second marriage as it is more likely for clients to have assets or children from a previous marriage. Prenuptial agreements help to keep these assets separate by preventing them from being entered into the marital pot from which assets are decided in divorce. If you are already married, it is possible to get the same protections as a prenuptial agreement through what is known as a postnuptial agreement. This is very similar to a prenuptial agreement, but it is agreed after you and your partner are already married.