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Are Pre-nuptial Agreements Enforceable In UK Courts?

Engagements are usually a wonderful time for everyone involved.

Once all the congratulations and excitement starts to simmer down, wedding planning can begin in earnest. And as unromantic as it may seem, if you have been married before and/or have substantial assets, part of this planning should include a pre-nuptial agreement.

The best way to find out how to protect your assets is to contact our specialist family solicitors.

What is a pre-nuptial agreement?

A pre-nuptial agreement is a formal contract entered into by a couple prior to marriage, which defines how their assets will be divided in the event of separation or divorce.

Are they legally enforceable in UK courts?

Pre-nuptial agreements are not enforceable in UK courts, but recent case law has shown that judges are prepared to give them substantial weight and uphold them as long as certain precautionary steps were taken when the agreement was drawn up and signed.

The court decisions on financial settlements are difficult to predict. In July 2016, the media was full of stories concerning a judge who had effectively told the ex-wife of one of Britain’s top vets to, “get a job”, rather than expect to live off maintenance from her ex-husband.

However, in February 2017, the Court of Appeal ordered one man to increase his ex-wife’s maintenance payments despite the fact the couple had been divorced for 15 years, their son had reached adulthood and she had been awarded almost all the liquid capital in the original financial settlement anyway.

The inconsistency of these decisions may act as a warning bell to newly-engaged couples. One way to protect the wealth and assets you bring into a marriage is to enter into a pre-nuptial agreement.

Can a pre-nuptial agreement be updated over the course of the marriage?

Yes, if circumstances change, making the original terms of the agreement unfair or unreasonable then it can be amended if both parties agree.

Why is independent legal advice imperative for both parties to a pre-nuptial agreement?

Although no one ever plans to get divorced, the sad fact is one-in-three marriages do fail. If you have substantial assets or have children from a previous marriage, it makes sense to ensure you protect your wealth in a manner that is fair and reasonable. We will help you draft a pre-nuptial agreement that stands a solid chance of being upheld in court.

Similarly, if you have been asked to sign a pre-nuptial agreement, we can advise as to whether it is fair and reasonable and advise on the future impact such an agreement could have on your finances.

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