Pre-Nuptial and Post-Nuptial Agreements

When planning a wedding it can be difficult to discuss what will happen if the relationship ends. However as the courts have such wide powers to deal with the parties' assets upon divorce or the dissolution of a civil partnership, couples are increasingly seeking to agree what should happen if they were to split to create certainty for the future. Although everyone hopes they will never have to use it many people feel it is sensible to enter into a pre or post-nuptial agreement to decide what should happen to their assets whilst they are still able to discuss the issues with their spouse or partner, rather than having to try to reach agreement at the end of a relationship with all of the emotional turmoil that can bring.

Our highly experienced family law solicitors are able to discuss the various options available to you in order to find a suitable agreement to protect your assets should the worst happen.

Pre-Nuptial Agreement

Many of our clients view a pre-nuptial agreement as an insurance policy.  They hope they will never have to use it but it is better to have one just in case. Our family law lawyers advise clients to consider a pre-nuptial agreement if:

  • You are bringing wealth into a marriage or civil partnership
  • You have business assets that you would like to protect
  • You are getting married for the first time and want to keep any assets owned prior to the marriage separate
  • You are getting married for a second time and wish to protect your assets
  • You want to preserve assets for your children.

At present, pre-nuptial agreements are not strictly binding however they are increasingly persuasive as a starting point for the division of assets following a divorce or the end of a civil partnership. The agreement provides clear evidence of a couple’s intentions at the outset of the relationship and of the assets each brought to the marriage or civil partnership. The extent to which an agreement will be upheld in court will depend of a number of factors such as:

  • Whether both parties received full independent legal advice prior to signing the agreement
  • Whether both parties fully disclosed their respective financial positions to each other before the agreement was finalised
  • Whether both parties both fully understood the terms to the agreement and whether either party was pressurised into signing it
  • How long ago the agreement was signed and the impact of the terms, having regard to the parties’ circumstances at the time the relationship ends.
  • Whether since the agreement was signed, there have been significant changes in the family such as the birth of a child or one of the parties becoming seriously ill
  • Whether any pressure was put on one party to sign the agreement.

Post-Nuptial Agreement

Couples who are already married or in a civil partnership can enter into a post-nuptial agreement to deal with their financial agreements if the relationship breaks down. The agreement is essentially the same as a pre-nuptial agreement it is just entered into after marriage.

Some couples that do enter a pre-nuptial agreement then update it using a post-nuptial agreement during the marriage. Our family law solicitors advise clients to keep their financial circumstances under review and update the agreement when necessary, for example to make provision for the birth of a child.  People also often enter into a post-nuptial agreement after receiving an inheritance to protect money gifted by their family members.

Our expert team of family law lawyers can give you straightforward and practical advice to help you decide the best way to protect your assets in the future. For more information contact a member of our team.