What is a Pre-nuptial Agreement?
A prenuptial agreement is a contract entered into before marriage to determine what will happen to the assets and liabilities of the couple if the marriage fails.
One reason why couples are reluctant to enter into such an agreement is because no-one enters into a marriage expecting it to end in separation or divorce. It is for this reason that a Prenuptial Agreement can appear cynical or unromantic.
However, our experienced family solicitors at King Street Solicitors LLP do in certain circumstances advise clients that such an agreement is a very sensible and practical thing to consider in the lead up to a wedding. It is particularly important if clients have acquired assets through property or otherwise prior to the relationship with their intended spouse.
What is the legal status of such an Agreement?
A pre-nuptial agreement is not legally binding under English Law. Upon separation or divorce the English Courts have the power to make a variety of Orders in relation to matrimonial assets.
However, increasingly Judges will consider the agreement as a relevant circumstance of the case providing the provisions are reasonable and certain conditions are met; namely:
- An agreement is more likely to be upheld if both parties obtain independent legal advice before the agreement is entered into.
- Both parties should provide full financial disclosure detailing their respective financial positions and circumstances.
- There is no evidence that any pressure was brought to bear on either party to enter into the agreement. Pressure may be apparent if there is too little time between the agreement being considered and signed by the parties before the marriage takes place. It is therefore important that both parties seek appropriate legal advice in plenty of time before the marriage in relation to the merits of proceeding with a pre-nuptial agreement. It is not advisable to sign a pre-nuptial agreement any less than 21 days before the marriage, and ideally it should be signed some time before that.
Such documents require careful drafting by solicitors to ensure that the provisions are clear, and that all potential aspects of a future separation are taken into account. The parties will therefore need to consider very carefully what they ultimately wish to achieve in entering into such a document with their intended spouse.
It is advisable for both parties to make new Wills prior to their marriage. If Wills are expressed to be “in contemplation of marriage” then they will remain valid after the marriage takes place. The provisions of the Will need to compliment the terms of the pre-nuptial agreement and shall deal with what will happen to the parties’ assets in the event of their deaths.
Should I enter into a pre-nuptial agreement?
We would urge anyone contemplating marriage, particularly clients with substantial assets, to obtain independent legal advice well in advance of their wedding date. Our “One Hour Assist” appointments are ideal for clients unsure as to whether a pre-nuptial agreement is appropriate for them as we can advise on the merits of entering into such an agreement
Nicola Coppinger is a family law partner specialising in financial aspects of marriage and divorce – contact our Pre Nuptial Agreement Solicitors in Wakefield to arrange an appointment on 01924 332395 or by email: email@example.com