If you or your future spouse are entering the marriage with assets of your own, you may benefit from a prenuptial agreement. These agreements protect such assets from division in the event of a divorce and can provide a couple with financial certainty and stability before the start of their marriage.

 

What is a prenuptial agreement?

A prenuptial agreement is a formal legal document that couples sign before marriage. The document outlines how assets should be divided and the amount of maintenance to be paid, if any, if the relationship ends in divorce. Individuals may also be able to protect themselves from any debts their partner has accrued before the marriage. Assets included within a pre-nuptial agreement can be wide-ranging – from property, shares and pensions to art and jewellery.

Prenuptial agreements usually deal with assets acquired prior to the marriage, but they can also make provision for joint assets which build up during marriage and which can be shared after divorce. There are no set rules for what can and cannot be included. It is a flexible and individualised document. For example, you can specify that future inheritances are not to be shared if the marriage ends. A prenuptial agreement is commonly used when the family of one or both future spouses wishes to protect the future inheritance of the respective spouse.

 

Benefits of a prenuptial agreement

  • It allows you and your spouse to confront potential financial issues before marriage. Financial conversations are serious and should not be avoided.
  • They minimise conflict and reduce costs during divorce proceedings because the division of assets has already been agreed upon.
  • The agreement gives you and your partner a foundation of trust and honesty to build on during the marriage.
  • You can have control over your own assets and be able to protect these.

 

Are prenuptial agreements legally binding?

Prenuptial agreements are not currently legally binding in England and Wales. However, the courts are more often upholding these agreements when they come into question, provided the following rules are upheld:

  1. The document is signed at least 28 days before the marriage;
  2. Both parties have provided full and frank disclosure;
  3. Both parties have received independent financial advice
  4. There has been no element of duress in the signing of the agreement; and
  5. Both parties have a full appreciation of the implications of the agreement.

 

If the above rules have been complied with, it is likely the agreement would be upheld unless it is considered to be unfair and lead one party to be left in a position of need. This crucial element of fairness can lead to challenges against prenuptial agreements through the Court, so it is vital to ensure your spouse is entering into the agreement freely, and that the agreement provides fully for both of your requirements on divorce.

 

Postnuptial agreements

A postnuptial agreement is signed by a married couple post-marriage. In the same way as a prenuptial agreement, a postnuptial agreement outlines the ownership of financial assets in the event of a divorce. Its legal status is also similar to a prenup.

A postnuptial agreement can confirm that the parties still consent to the terms of the prenuptial agreement signed before the marriage. It can be used to update the original prenuptial agreement as the marriage evolves, creating provisions for children and assets as they are acquired during the marriage.

 

Prenuptial Agreement Solicitor West End

At Marks Law, our team of experienced family solicitors can assist you in writing your pre or post-nuptial agreement that fits the exact needs of you and your partner.

Please contact us today for more information about how our West London-based team can help you.

Call us on 020 7123 4600 or email contact@markslaw.co.uk. Alternatively, please click here to fill in a contact form.