You might think of prenuptial agreements as something that rich and famous people do – protecting their wealth should their new marriage end in divorce. But there are plenty of reasons why those of us without vast wealth or fame should think about them too.
Let’s deal with what a prenuptial agreement is first. It’s a legally drawn up document that specifies what will happen in the event of a divorce. It must be signed before you get married but it’s also possible to enter into a postnuptial agreement after the marriage.
Your prenuptial agreement can include things like:
- Property – the family home or property that one or other partner brought into the relationship.
- Savings and potential debt liabilities.
- Inheritances and trusts.
- Children – including those from a prior relationship, and whether they will have a right to any property or assets.
Strictly speaking, a prenuptial agreement isn’t enforceable in UK courts. But judges do tend to give significant weight to them when resolving disputes. Having ‘prenup’ will reduce the likelihood of a dispute and having to go to the courts in the first place.
A Valid Prenuptial Agreement – Requirements
A prenuptial agreement will only be seen as valid if:
- It is worded properly and without any apparent bias. The terms should seem fair to a reasonable person.
- Both parties have sought independent legal advice and the agreement is properly signed and witnessed.
- There is full disclosure of assets, liabilities and debts before the agreement is drawn up and signed.
- Sufficient time has been allowed for consideration.
Agreements can be revised during the marriage if circumstances change – such as children, an inheritance or significant change of wealth of either party. Agreements can also be challenged for similar reasons. They can either be indefinite or for a fixed number of years.
A prenuptial agreement doesn’t make divorce more likely. But it will make the process less uncertain – it’s not always easy to predict what the court will decide in a dispute. We appreciate that it can be a sensitive subject when what you really want to focus on is the big day and your future together. Mediation often helps to create a constructive atmosphere for the discussion.
If you have any questions about prenuptial agreements or any other aspect of family law, you’ll find somebody knowledgeable and sympathetic to talk to in the Powell’s Family Law Team. Contact 01934 623 501 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.