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Marriage trends are changing; increasingly people are getting married later in life and remarrying, often bringing children and significant assets to the partnership. It is therefore unsurprising that many couples are now choosing to protect their interests before legally tying the knot.
A pre-nuptial agreement is a document which set out how pre-marriage assets, property, inheritance, and existing arrangements for children will be preserved and arranged in the event the couple choose to divorce or separate later on.
Legally, once two people get married or enter a civil partnership, any property or assets owned by either party become part of the marriage. Unless the couple has a pre-nuptial agreement in place, if the couple divorces all unprotected property will be divided according to what is ‘fair’. This means one party could walk away with significant assets (such as the family home), even if they didn’t own them prior to the marriage.
If you are already married, you can enter into a post-nuptial agreement which can cover the same things as a pre-nuptial agreement.
At Hubbard Pegman & Whitney, our team of specialist family solicitors have extensive experience assisting couples negotiate and agree pre-nuptial or post-nuptial agreements in order to protect their financial interests in the unfortunate event of relationship breakdown.
Whether your case is relatively straightforward or more complex, perhaps involving overseas assets or court-ordered child arrangements from a previous divorce, we can draft you a practical and watertight pre-nuptial agreement so you can proceed into marriage with confidence.
Do I need a pre-nuptial agreement?
Not all couples will feel a pre-nuptial agreement is right for them. However, it’s always worth consulting a family solicitor with experience in the area to advise on whether you might find it beneficial.
For example, you may want to get a pre-nuptial agreement if:
- You’re getting married but want to keep your finances and property separate;
- You own certain assets you don’t want to form part of any divorce settlement, such as inherited property or family heirlooms;
- One party owns significantly more assets than the other which they want to preserve;
- One of you owns a business and you do not want this to form part of any divorce settlement;
- You have children from a previous relationship and want any pre-marriage arrangements involving them (such as contact with their other parent) to remain the same;
- You simply want to avoid any ‘who gets what’ disputes if you choose to divorce later on.
What does a pre-nuptial agreement cover?
Pre-nuptial agreements are commonly used to:
- Document who owns what, including the family home, cars, savings, investments, pensions, pets, and personal belongings such as furniture;
- Define what property is “community property” and may be divided between the spouses upon divorce;
- Assign debt;
- Set out arrangements and decisions about children.
There are also certain things you cannot include in a pre-nuptial agreement. For example, you cannot contract out of paying child maintenance in the future and the agreement cannot be manifestly unfair (for example, it cannot leave one party financially destitute).
Are pre/post-nuptial agreements legally binding in the UK?
Pre-nuptial agreements and post-nuptial agreements are not automatically legally binding. However, a court is likely to uphold your agreement upon divorce if:
- Both parties received independent legal advice;
- Both parties consented to the agreement;
- Both parties fully understand the effect and implications of the agreement;
- The agreement is fair (for example, it doesn’t leave the financially weaker party struggling to get by);
- The agreement does not prejudice any children
As above, in order for a pre-nuptial agreement to be upheld upon divorce, both you and your spouse must have received independent legal advice. It’s therefore essential to consult an experienced family solicitor before entering into a pre-nuptial agreement.
For friendly, expert guidance on matters relating to child arrangements, you can contact our family law team now by calling 020 8735 9770 or email email@example.com