Prenuptial agreements: All you need to know by Nastassia Burton

Relationships|August 1st 2014

Who doesn’t love the summer? People are having picnics, going on days out and planning weddings. Yes, summer is definitely ‘Wedding Season’. It’s hardly surprising, really. People want their special day to be perfect, and what better way to have a perfect day than to have it in the glorious summer sun?

In the joy and excitement of planning a wedding, it can be difficult to bring up the issue of a prenuptial agreement, but they are becoming increasingly popular.

So what is a prenuptial agreement?

Basically, a prenuptial agreement, or ‘prenup’, aims to provide protection to couples in the event that their marriage breaks down.

Why get a prenup?

Without a prenuptial agreement, the consequences of a divorce can be somewhat of a lottery if the English courts become involved. This is because the court has a great deal of discretion and flexibility when deciding on the appropriate division of matrimonial assets on divorce.  A properly drafted prenuptial agreement can help to readdress the potential uncertainty that is inherent with a court-imposed financial settlement.

How effective are they?

The existence of a prenuptial agreement does not automatically enable parties to prevent the court from imposing a financial settlement on the parties, although a properly drafted prenup will carry substantial weight with the court.

OK, so now what?

There are several things to consider when drafting a prenup.

  • Independent specialist legal advice: It is vital that both parties obtain proper independent legal advice before entering into the prenuptial agreement. Each party to the marriage should be separately represented by an independent solicitor who has specialist legal experience in this regard. It is highly likely that the prenuptial agreement will be unenforceable if either party is not adequately represented.
  • Financial disclosure: When entering into a prenuptial agreement, full and frank disclosure must be exchanged between the parties.
  • Reasonable provision: They should be as fair and realistic as possible. If the division of assets is weighted heavily towards one party, the court may consider this to be unfair and unreasonable.
  • Future flexibility: Consideration must be given as to whether any of the provisions of the prenuptial agreement should be review or modified at some point in the future. There should therefore be a provision in the agreement allowing for some future flexibility, such the birth of any children during the marriage.
  • Timing: It should not be entered into in haste, as sufficient time is needed so that both parties can discuss, negotiate, and agree, the provision of the prenuptial agreement. Ideally, the prenuptial contract should be finalised at least two months prior to the date of the marriage. This is to try and prevent allegations of one party coercing the other.
  • Language: If possible, a prenuptial contract should be drafted in as plain English as is possible. This is to ensure that both parties fully understand the provisions of the agreement, and to ensure that they are fully aware of what they are agreeing to.

How much does a prenup cost?

The cost of such agreement varies considerably as it is dependent on the size, and complexity, of the assets involved. A detailed cost estimate will be provided once we have a greater understanding of the assets, and their complexity.

Nastassia Burton is a Partner in the firm’s Altrincham office. She joined Stowe Family Law in July 2008. She is experienced in all aspects of family law. In particular, she advises people on the practical, legal and financial consequences resulting from the breakdown of relationships

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  1. barry says:

    I am interested in exploring a secret Pre Nup, is this something you would advise on?

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