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Why should you have a Pre-Nuptial Agreement?

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The Split: Pre-Nuptial Agreements are not just for high profile cases

Currently airing on BBC at the moment is TV drama "The Split".  Featuring in the show are Fi and Richie Hansen, a rich and famous celebrity couple who entered into a Pre-Nuptial Agreement.  While it may make good viewing, there is more to this issue than this entertaining drama portrays.  In this blog Rachel Vallor from the Family team at Chattertons looks at 'Pre Nups'.  What are they really about, and should you consider entering into one?

                 Pre Nuptial Agreements

What is a Pre-Nuptial Agreement and what are the advantages?

A Pre-Nuptial Agreement is a legal agreement made between two people who are about to marry.  It will usually set out how the parties to the agreement wish their assets to be divided if they later divorce.   Pre-Nuptial Agreements may also set out how the parties will arrange their finances during the marriage.  There are many advantages to entering into a Pre-Nuptial Agreement.  They are appropriate for all sorts of different circumstances, but typically they may appeal to those getting married for a second time, those who have acquired wealth prior to the marriage or have business interests acquired prior to the marriage, those with inherited wealth, or those who simply want to reduce the possibility of conflict if they were to divorce further down the line.

Should I enter a Pre-Nuptial Agreement?

When considering whether to enter into a Pre-Nuptial Agreement, it is important to consider whether you would be willing to be bound by the terms of an agreement that could be disadvantageous to you should you separate from your spouse in later years.  You need good, sound legal advice from a specialist to help you make that decision.

Will the agreement be binding?

The current law relating to Pre-Nuptial Agreements was developed following the Supreme Court decision in Radmacher v Granatino in October 2010.   In this case the Supreme Court stated "…the court should give effect to a nuptial agreement that is freely entered into by each party with a full appreciation of its implications unless in the circumstances prevailing it would not be fair to hold the parties to their agreement".  Therefore, a Pre-Nuptial Agreement is now likely, although not guaranteed, to be binding if the parties entered into it of their own free will, without undue influence or pressure and if they have been informed of its implications.  For the agreement to carry weight, the agreement needs to be properly drawn, both parties need full knowledge of each other's financial circumstances, and both parties need to take independent legal advice before entering into the agreement.  It must also be fair to hold the parties to their agreement.    Factors which may make an agreement unfair include failure to take account of the needs of any children or the length of the marriage.

How much time should there be between the signing of the Pre-Nuptial Agreement and the wedding date?

A Pre-Nuptial Agreement will need to have been fully completed at least 28 days before the wedding.  It is therefore important to start the process of a Pre-Nuptial Agreement well before this, to allow time to obtain legal advice, deal with disclosure of each party's financial situation and allow both parties to sign the agreement.

Is there an alternative if it is too late?

If a Pre-Nuptial Agreement is not completed in time, a Post-Nuptial Agreement may be entered into as an alternative.  A Post-Nuptial Agreement is a legal agreement made between two parties who are already married and will set out the same information as in a Pre-Nuptial Agreement.  There is no difference in legal status in Pre-Nuptial or Post-Nuptial Agreements.

What do I do next?

Chattertons have specialist family lawyers who are able to advise on this important area of law and will offer an initial Fixed Fee Appointment so that you can discuss what is best for you with a qualified professional who specialises in these sort of agreements.

If you would like further advice and information, please contact your local Chattertons office to book an appointment.     

Find out more about Pre and Post Nuptial Agreements

Alternatively contact the Family Law Team or call our Lincoln office 01522 541181