What is a prenuptial agreement?
A prenuptial agreement, commonly abbreviated to ‘pre-nup’, is a contract entered into prior to marriage. A postnuptial agreement is a contract entered into once the parties marry. The content of a prenuptial/postnuptial agreement can vary widely, however commonly includes provisions for division of property and maintenance in the event of separation or divorce. Previously, prenuptial/postnuptial agreements were not legally binding, although a judge could take them into account to a limited extent in reaching a decision. However recent case law has made it clear that properly drafted agreements could be binding on the parties.
Why would I need one?
Marriage is an important commitment with far-reaching consequences for both sides. Many couples prefer to set out any financial agreements at the outset so they are both aware of the position and this can help to avoid lengthy and costly legal battles should they separate. The preparation and drafting of such agreements can be complicated and so you will need a specialist solicitor from the outset to receive independent, impartial, objective advice from specialists who will steer you clear of the legal pitfalls and safeguard your interests.
There are particular circumstances where you may consider a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement, for instance if one party as greater assets or income than the other party, if you have received inheritance or other assets that you want to protect or if you want to safeguard assets for the benefit of children from a previous relationship.
If you are concerned about the financial consequences should your marriage fail, then you should seek specialist pre-nuptial advice from one of our family lawyers before you get married. It is important to take advice in advance of your wedding day as, for a prenuptial agreement to be considered binding, it must be made in good time, both parties will need to obtain separate legal advice and provide full financial disclosure. This process takes time and so cannot be dealt with at the last minute. Once disclosure has taken place and the terms of the agreement reached, then your lawyer will draft the prenuptial agreement.
Is it too late to get a prenup?
Even if your wedding is soon approaching and you have not already entered into a prenuptial agreement, we may still be able to assist you. For instance we may advise you that it is too late to obtain a prenuptial agreement, if there is insufficient time to follow the correct procedure, however instead we could assist you with a postnuptial agreement. A postnuptial agreement will deal with the same financial issues as a prenuptial agreement, however is entered into after your marriage.
Postnuptial agreements can also be used to record your intentions after a change in circumstances for instance if you have children following your marriage or if there is a change in your finances.
The law relating to both ‘prenups’ and ‘postnups’ is complex and likely to change over the years and therefore we would suggest that you make an appointment with one of our experienced family lawyers for more advice on your individual circumstances.
For more information please contact us online or by phone on 01252 733770 or 020 7842 0800.