Is a prenuptial agreement something I should consider?

Pre & Post Nuptial Agreements - 4 minutes read

This Valentine’s Day, Zoe Rose and Yasmine Plummer explain what a prenuptial agreement is, what they do, and why everyone should consider them before their big day.

What is a prenup?

A prenuptial agreement, often referred to as a “prenup”, is a legal document signed by a couple in anticipation of their marriage or a civil partnership. This document sets out how a couple share financial responsibilities both whilst they are married or civil partnered but also in the event that their relationship were to end or in the event of death.

Without a prenup, the starting point for the Court on a separation is an equal division of the assets. This starting point can be moved away from if this is required to ensure that needs can be met. For example, it might be necessary for one person to have more of the available resources because they have a smaller mortgage capacity. Taking the time to discuss and agree with your partner what should happen to assets in the event a relationship breakdown will reduce uncertainty and stress in your relationship. It can help to ensure that you and your partner’s views about financial responsibility are complementary. Also, should the relationship break down, a prenuptial agreement should reduce complexity as it should provide a clear explanation of what should happen.

What can a prenup protect?

Each person would need to clearly set out their assets and liabilities at the time of drawing up the document, alongside any joint assets, so that everyone can understand what there is at that point is time. By clearly defining individual and joint property,couples can avoid confusion and disputes which often arise when a relationship breaks down. Prenups can also be used to protect funds or assets received from outside your own work or relationship, most commonly inheritances (money, assets or savings). They can also protect you from your partner’s debt and protect your children’s inheritance. The legal document would give you both a say in how assets should be split during the course of your marriage and should the relationship break down.

A prenup can offer some certainty in circumstances where you would prefer to agree in advance the distribution of your assets on divorce rather than leaving it to the discretion of the Courts.

Who should get a prenup?

While prenups were once only associated with rich and famous individuals, they have become more common and are now recognised as a valuable tool for couples from all financial backgrounds.

Anyone can have a prenup, but it is especially important in circumstances where there is a disparity in wealth between you and your partner, where either or both of you have children (including adult children) from previous relationships that you want to provide for, where there are business assets to protect or where there is a future expectation of inheritance or wealth.

What can’t a prenup do?

A prenup will not be upheld by the Court if it is unfair to one person, or where it would be unreasonable if the circumstances had changed in a way that could not have been foreseen when the agreement was drafted. It will also not be upheld if it can be shown that one person was forced into signing it or did not understand what they were agreeing to.

While discussing a prenuptial agreement may not be the most romantic aspect of wedding preparations, prenuptial agreements are a sensible way of starting a marriage. It allows you and your partner to openly communicate about financial expectations and provides a level of security. Ultimately, a prenuptial agreement is a practical and proactive step toward safeguarding your financial future and promoting a more stable understanding of the financial implications of marriage.

Typically, prenups will also not address the specific arrangements for any children, as the detail of these will be highly dependent on when a separation actually occurs, the ages of the children and the practicalities of life at that stage, which it is very difficult to know with any certainty at the outset of a relationship.

When should you get a prenup?

A prenup should be signed no less than 28 days before the wedding or civil partnership to prevent the Court automatically assuming there has been pressure to agree the same. It is important to start the process with enough time to allow for drafting and negotiation between the parties should it be necessary. Whilst these documents can be prepared in 6-8 weeks, it is much more prudent to do them early on in your wedding planning, ideally before save the dates have been sent out, to ensure everyone has the time and space to focus on them.

Talk to us

We are committed to ensuring that all of our clients are fully advised about prenuptial and postnuptial agreements. If you would like any advice about your individual circumstances, then please do not hesitate to get in touch with our highly experienced family law team.