What you Need to Know About Pre-Nuptial Agreements in the UK
Local Pre-nuptial agreement solicitors
Wedding planning is an exciting time for all involved, as is planning for your marriage. We’ve worked with many couples to help them plan ahead using a pre-nuptial agreement. If you have assets, property, or inheritance that you would like to ring-fence, then a pre-nuptial agreement can help you to set this out before your wedding day.
This is not to be confused with post-nupital agreements; these are for couples who are already married or in a civil partnership and would like to put into place ‘ring-fences’ for assets, finances and businesses for the future.
The two are very similar except a pre-nuptial agreement is entered into before a wedding.
As expert family law solicitors, it is our job to facilitate conversations between couples to ensure that, if a pre-nuptial agreement is needed, it is carried out smoothly and does not impact the joyful anticipation of your upcoming wedding.
How Long Does the Pre-nuptial Process Take?
If you are thinking about a pre-nuptial agreement, timing is very important. A valid pre-nuptial agreement should be signed at least 28 days prior to the wedding, and both parties must obtain independent legal advice. It is vital to factor in the time speaking to your fiancé, taking independent legal advice, drawing up the agreement, agreeing any amendments, and finally signing with at least 28 days to go before your wedding. We can help you plan this out.
To take the stress away before your big day, book an initial call with a friendly and expert solicitor from our family law team. We will speak to you in confidence about your key concerns and give you an honest, transparent view of whether a pre-nuptial agreement would be beneficial for your circumstances. Call us on 01273 604 123, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or fill out our enquiry form to book your initial call.
Pre-nuptial agreements are entered into by couples before they get married or enter a civil partnership. In this guide, we will look at what a pre-nuptial agreement can cover, the pros and cons, and importantly, whether it is right for you and your partner.
What are the Advantages to a Pre-nuptial Agreement?
Some of the advantages to a pre-nuptial agreement are:
Transparency and clarity
A pre-nuptial agreement requires full financial disclosure, so you will both understand each other’s assets and which assets will be shared during the marriage before you walk down the aisle. You will also have an understanding of which assets will be shared, or not, if you were to divorce. This creates a clear understanding of what solicitors call ‘matrimonial property’, i.e. property and assets that will be included in your marital finances.
There are many circumstances in which an individual might want to ‘ring fence’ assets from the marital estate. You might have assets that you have inherited, such as a treasured heirloom or interest in the family business. You may have property which you bought before you were married. You might have children from a previous relationship and wish to protect their interests by making sure that specific assets are set aside for their benefit. Your fiancé can agree, by signing the pre-nup, that certain assets would not be included in a financial settlement if you were to divorce.
Protection against debt
If you or your fiancé have accrued debt, you can use a pre-nuptial agreement to state that the other spouse’s assets would not be used to pay those debts in future.
Dealing with difficult conversations around finances can actually strengthen some relationships by promoting healthy communication and understanding. Setting out these matters from the start can also create a peace of mind that, should you ever divorce, you both understand how your assets will be dealt with.
What are the Disadvantages of a Pre-nuptial Agreement?
Some of the disadvantages of a pre-nuptial agreement are:
Not legally binding
Pre-nuptial agreements are not legally binding in the UK, because circumstances can change which might make a pre-nuptial agreement inadequate. If circumstances have dramatically changed, or if one of the spouses is shown to have hidden assets or applied undue pressure, then the Court may override the terms of the pre-nup. However, the Court will take a pre-nuptial agreement into strong consideration and having one in place can have a significant impact upon the financial outcome of your Divorce. Using an expert solicitor to draft your pre-nup is key to improve the chances of it succeeding in Court.
Does not take future children into account
A pre-nuptial agreement will be based upon your circumstances before you are married. If you have children in future, a Court will prioritise the financial security of those children when making financial orders. In some circumstances, the Court has overridden pre-nuptial agreements to provide for child maintenance. You can make provision for future children in your pre-nup, but it is impossible to know exactly how children will impact the marital finances. Clauses that deal with child maintenance will be reviewed by the Court if one parent doesn’t feel that the pre-nuptial agreement is adequate to cover child maintenance costs.
Does not take change in circumstances into account
As we’ve already stated, no one can predict the future, and a pre-nuptial agreement may simply not reflect changes in a couples’ circumstances – especially if the couple have been married for a long time. Finances, jobs, children, and illness are just a few of many issues that can significantly change a marriage. If a couples’ circumstances are markedly different than when they signed the pre-nuptial agreement, the Court is more likely to dismiss terms in the pre-nup.
Potential to be unromantic and stressful
Many couples find it unromantic to be thinking about divorce when they are planning to spend the rest of their lives together. It can also take a toll on couples to be negotiating financial terms at the same time as wedding planning, which in itself is stressful. This is why it is so important to use a solicitor who is empathetic and understands the human element as well as having expert legal knowledge. Our family solicitors are rated 5 stars by our clients for our legal expertise and empathy.
Making a Pre-nuptial Agreement with Burt Brill & Cardens
Although not legally binding in the UK, a good pre-nuptial agreement drafted by an expert family law solicitor has the power to influence the Court decision in relation to capital and income provisions quite significantly. If you have significant assets that you wish to “ring fence”, such as a family business, property, or sentimental possessions, a pre-nuptial agreement may be suitable for you.
If you are still not sure if a pre-nuptial agreement is right for you, or have concerns about how to discuss it with your fiancé, speak to our family law team. We will discuss your concerns confidentially and give you practical, transparent advice on the best route for you.
See more: Can I make a pre-nup after marriage?