Prenuptial and Postnuptial Agreements
‘Prenuptial Agreements’, commonly known as ‘Prenups’, give couples an opportunity to state how their assets should be divided if their relationship breaks down. Prenuptial Agreements are entered into before a couple marries or enters into a civil partnership. Postnuptial Agreements, or Postnups as they are more commonly known, operate in the same way as their prenuptial counterparts and address the same issues but are entered into after the marriage or civil partnership ceremony has taken place.
Our expert family law solicitors can guide you through the process of preparing Prenuptial and Postnuptial Agreements, and assisting clients seeking to enforce one. Our advice is discrete, straightforward and delivered with the appropriate degree of sensitivity.
Do you need a Prenuptial or Postnuptial Agreement?
Prenuptial and Postnuptial Agreements are commonplace in many countries in Europe and around the world but have been slow to gain momentum in the UK. Here, we have traditionally viewed such Agreements as inherently unromantic and the preserve of the super-rich, unnecessary to those of us who do not have a large fortune to protect. However, attitudes are slowly changing, and an estimated one in five UK couples now enter into a Prenuptial Agreement.
This general increase is reflected in the number of clients coming to us for advice on Prenuptial and Postnuptial Agreements. Many of those clients have specific reasons for entering into an Agreement, such as a desire to protect the interests of children from a previous relationship. However, Prenuptial and Postnuptial Agreements can be a useful way for any couple, whatever their circumstances, to document how their assets should be divided in the event of a divorce or civil partnership dissolution. By stating their intentions at the outset of a marriage or civil partnership, the couple can avoid acrimonious, costly disputes later.
What issues should you include in your Prenuptial or Postnuptial Agreement?
Since every couple’s financial circumstances and priorities are unique, so too are the issues they need to address in their Prenuptial or Postnuptial Agreement. Examples of the types of matters couples regularly include are as follows:
- Children – many couples have children from previous relationships whose financial security they are keen to protect. Prenuptial and Postnuptial Agreements offer a convenient way to ringfence assets for the benefit of those children and ensure they do not lose out should your new relationship end.
- Property – ownership of the family home, and who has the right to live there, can be particularly thorny issues when a couple separates. Further, many couples enter into a marriage already owning property in their sole names, which they are keen to safeguard. Prenuptial and Postnuptial Agreements allow you to address any pertinent property matters and dictate how ownership should be handled.
- Finances – Prenuptial and Postnuptial Agreements are frequently used to clarify what a couple agrees should happen to any money held in joint bank accounts, shareholdings and pension pots.
When should you enter into a Prenuptial Agreement?
You should enter into a Prenuptial Agreement as soon as possible and, at the very least, no more than 28 days before the ceremony. If you leave the issue until the last minute, the Court may be less inclined to enforce the Agreement should you call on it to do so. In such cases, it may be advisable to wait until after the ceremony and enter into a Postnuptial Agreement instead.
Are Prenuptial and Postnuptial Agreements legally enforceable?
It is a myth that Prenuptial and Postnuptial Agreements have no legal status in the UK. Whilst they have not yet been given a statutory footing, the Courts have made clear that they will likely enforce the terms of such Agreements unless the Judge deems them unfair.
A Judge will consider several factors when considering whether the terms of a Prenuptial or Postnuptial Agreement should be enforced. They include that the Agreement should be fair, does not prejudice the rights of any children and was entered into freely by both parties.
How our Prenuptial and Postnuptial Agreement solicitors can help
We can help clients to effectively protect their interests through comprehensive Prenuptial and Postnuptial Agreements. Our experience enables us to advise from both a legal and practical standpoint, and we will ensure that you have considered all relevant issues before we prepare an Agreement that accurately mirrors your intentions.
If your relationship ends, we will assist you in enforcing the terms of your Prenuptial or Postnuptial Agreement in the most cost-effective and least adversarial way possible. We will guide and support you through the process and help you to achieve the best possible outcome for you and your family.