It may not be the most romantic of notions, but a prenuptial agreement can be much more valuable to couples than even the most expensive of gifts.

A prenuptial agreement (also known as a ‘prenup’) is a document made by a couple before they marry that sets out the ownership of assets. It can be invaluable should a marriage fail, providing much-needed clarity in the event of marital breakdown that can save ex-spouses considerable time, money and heartache.

With nearly half of all marriages in the UK ending in divorce, having a prenup in place is something that all couples looking to get married should consider.

What is a prenuptial agreement?

A prenuptial agreement is a contract entered into by a couple before they get married. It sets out the ownership of assets and records how assets will be divided should their marriage end in divorce.

Assets usually included in a prenup include money, property, pensions, anticipated inheritances and sums owed to either party. There can be others – prenups are tailored to individuals’ needs – and a solicitor can advise you on what you should include based on your circumstances.

A prenup can also be used to protect the interests of any children from a previous relationship by setting out what they are entitled to should the current marriage break down.

Are prenuptial agreements only for wealthy people?

Anyone can make a prenuptial agreement, regardless of their financial situation or the value of their assets.

A prenup not only protects what you have at the time of marriage but can also safeguard assets you might acquire while you are married.

Prenups are particularly useful in certain situations, including:

  • If there is a disparity in wealth between one partner and the other.
  • If there is likely to be a future disparity in wealth between one partner and the other (for example, if one party will receive an inheritance).
  • To protect children from a previous relationship.
  • If either party has a business to protect.
  • If there is an international dimension to the relationship.

Is a prenup enforceable by the Courts?

Prenups are not currently legally binding in England and Wales. However, they are an invaluable resource to fall back on in divorce negotiations and the UK Courts are showing increasing willingness to abide by their terms.

Prenups can be made more persuasive to the Courts if it can be shown that they were entered into correctly and certain criteria were met. These include:

  • The parties took independent legal advice on their rights and knew the agreement’s implications.
  • There was full disclosure of all assets and liabilities.
  • The prenup allowed for future family changes such as the arrival of children or if one party were to become seriously unwell and unable to work.
  • Neither party was pressured into signing.
  • The agreement has been updated regularly.

Specialist legal advice from an experienced family lawyer can prove invaluable. A solicitor can increase the likelihood of the contents of a prenup being upheld by the Court in the event of a dispute by ensuring it is prepared correctly, is ‘fair’, and meets the terms set out in the Matrimonial Causes Act.

What are the advantages of a prenup?

When you get married, any assets you own may be considered matrimonial assets that both partners ‘share’ and each has a claim to if the marriage breaks down.
A prenuptial agreement allows partners to ringfence certain assets that are either within their ownership at the time of the marriage or that they might acquire during the marriage.
A prenup can help to:

  • Protect any children’s inheritance or specific assets.
  • Protect any money, assets or savings that are due to be inherited.
  • Give both parties a say in how assets will be split upon a divorce
  • Allow one partner to retain complete control of the ownership of a business.
  • Protect one partner from the other partner’s debts.

When should I get a prenup?

A prenuptial agreement should be made well in advance of your wedding day as signing too close could impact upon its validity and is often looked on unfavourably by the Courts.

If you are considering getting married and want advice about a prenuptial agreement, please contact us today. Our experienced team of family solicitors will be able to guide you through any queries you may have and ensure that an agreement is drafted which best protects your interests.

We can also help married couples looking for peace of mind and security about their financial future by advising on post-nuptial agreements (‘postnups’). These work in a similar way to prenups in helping protect each spouse’s separate assets from future claims in the event of a divorce.

Prenuptial Agreement Solicitors

If you are looking for legal advice on prenuptial agreements or need more information on post-nuptial agreements, please get in touch with Beverley Morris & Co. today.

Our specialist Family Law Team in Blackheath is experienced in dealing with prenups and postnups and will ensure that they are personalised to meet your needs and those of your children.

You can call us on 020 8852 4433 or email Alternatively, you can fill in this contact form.