30 January 2024

What is a Prenuptial Agreement?

A prenuptial agreement (prenup) is, as the name suggests, an agreement entered into by a couple before they marry or enter into a civil partnership. Prenups can detail the ownership of assets and address how the couple wishes to divide their assets should they divorce or dissolve their civil partnership.

There is a common misconception that prenups are only available to and only beneficial for the very wealthy and celebrities. This is incorrect, however, and there are many reasons why a prenup may be beneficial for any couple considering entering into marriage or civil partnership. 

Why is it important to have a prenup?

As explained above, prenups should detail the ownership of assets and address how the couple wishes to divide their assets should the relationship end. The assets in question can be both pre-existing assets from before the marriage, and expected assets for during the marriage. Examples of specific situation in which a prenup might be particularly important are as follow:

  • Where there is a disparity in wealth between the couple at the time of marriage;
  • Where there is an expectation of future wealth for one party, whether through career, investments, inheritance or other;
  • Where there is a business to protect;
  • Where one party owns assets, such as properties, prior to marriage.

The main purpose of a prenup is to provide some certainty and security by building a foundation for the future division of assets, and the protection of those assets should the marriage irretrievably end. A prenup should reduce uncertainty and stress in the event of a divorce, and could provide an invaluable resource to refer to in divorce negotiations if necessary.

When should a prenup be sought?

The prenup must be signed by both parties a minimum of 28 days before the date of legal marriage or civil partnership. It is highly encouraged, however, for the process to be initiated as early as possible. This is because the details of the document must be agreed between the parties, and the document must be drafted by solicitors. Furthermore, the terms of a prenup should be well considered by the parties involved and should avoid being rushed.

Do you need a solicitor when drafting a prenup?

Each party must have their own independent legal representative when preparing a prenup in order to adequately protect their interests and ensure their understanding of the terms of the prenup. The instruction of solicitors is imperative should the terms of the prenup be disputed down the line and the Court has to consider whether to uphold or disregard the prenup. The involvement of a solicitor will ensure and facilitate proving to Court that important factors regarding the creation of the prenup, including full disclosure of assets, whether any party was under duress, any deceptions and proper understanding of the agreements, have been appropriately dealt with in its preparation.

For more information of prenuptial agreements, or to start your own prenuptial journey, then please do not hesitate to contact our family law team on 01273 447 065 or [email protected]

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