Sometimes in a marriage, one party possesses more than the other in terms of wealth or assets. Should these assets be acquired prior to the marriage, then one party may wish to take precautions to protect these assets should the marriage fail. This is possible with a Pre-Nuptial Agreement, which is a formal contract between a couple that sets out for division of their assets in the event of a divorce/separation.
The document is signed before the couple marry and is usually a document entered into by couples who have a particularly uneven distribution of wealth. As pre-nups are becoming an increasingly popular agreement made by couples, we’ve outlined the main things that you need to know about them.
1. Pre-Nuptial Agreements are not just for the rich and famous. There is a perception that pre-nups are a precaution reserved for A-listers and people with huge amounts of wealth. Actually, they’re becoming increasingly popular as a ‘good sense’ move before tying the knot.
2. Best practice requires that both parties have their own solicitor, and they need to fully disclose their assets from the get-go.
3. The agreement has to be freely entered into in order that there be as much choice as possible.
4. Another criteria for a pre-nup to stand is that full and frank disclosure has to be given by both parties – nothing can be hidden! You must disclose your full position to both your solicitor and your spouse, and this should be ideally recorded for both parties in an appendix to the agreement.
5. The timing of entering into the agreement should be considered, so think ahead. Suggesting a pre-nup too late in the day – i.e., a week before you’re scheduled to wed, is not a great idea. There should be a period of at least three weeks between signing the agreement and the date of the marriage.
6. You should implement a review clause in the agreement.
7. It is not possible to oust the jurisdiction of the family Court.
8. Pre-nups aren’t the only way to protect your assets; Post nuptial agreements are an alternative way to protect your assets in the event of marriage breakdown.
9. Pre-nups are still not automatically binding in England or Wales, though recently courts have been more willing to attach weight to them if the steps as set out above are taken.
10. Any perceived unfairness within the agreement can still be addressed by the Court. However, as long as the circumstances and the nature of your pre-nup are fair within the eyes of the court, your pre-nup is a great way to add clarity to the division of your assets.
In short, pre-nuptial agreements may seem daunting, and appear an awkward subject to approach. However, when they are executed properly and fairly, they may assist in times of marriage breakdown and help to ease all the stress that can bring.
If you are seeking further legal advice on pre-nuptial agreements or divorce proceedings, feel free to get in touch by calling us on 01782 652300. Alternatively, you can drop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.