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Pre-nuptial Agreements for Business Owners

As a business owner, it is always sensible to plan for the worst. When it comes to getting married, while nobody wants to be pessimistic, it is simple good sense to consider how your business might be affected if your marriage ended in divorce. This is especially true when dealing with a family business where your other relatives could be affected if your business became involved in any divorce proceedings.

For an increasing number of our clients, the preparation of a well-drawn pre-nuptial agreement is as much a part of the preparations for a wedding as the rings and the cake. A pre-nuptial agreement or ‘prenup’ lets you set out how you agree that financial issues should be considered and how assets, including your business, should be divided in the event of a breakdown of your relationship.

Landmark decisions at the Family Courts in recent years have made this topic much more widely known, with judges increasingly likely to be guided by the terms of a well-written pre-nuptial agreement. This means that having a prenup is now accepted as a sensible way of preventing potential future problems for you and your business.

At Chattertons, our family business lawyers have seen first-hand the relief a pre-nuptial agreement can bring for business owners during divorce. We can help you with drafting a prenuptial agreement to protect your business, as well as reviewing a prenuptial agreement if you have been asked to sign one and advising on the application of a prenup during divorce.

If you are already married and want to get the same protection offered by a prenuptial agreement, we can advise you on creating a post-nuptial agreement. This carries the same weight as a pre-nuptial agreement but can be created at any point during your marriage.

Speak to our family business solicitors about pre-nuptial agreements

If you are a business owner looking for expert assistance with a pre-nuptial agreement, you can contact our local teams in Boston, Grantham, Horncastle, Lincoln, London, Newark, Sleaford, Spalding or Stamford.

To ask a question or request a call back at a time that suits you, please use our simple enquiry form and a member of our team will get back to you quickly.

How our family business solicitors can help you with pre-nuptial agreements

Drafting a pre-nuptial agreement

Our specialist family lawyers have the expertise to draft an agreement that is clear and fair to both parties, minimising the risk of any dispute with your future spouse, and giving you peace of mind that your business has the best protection possible.

Reviewing a prenup

If your partner has asked you to sign a prenup, we can provide independent legal advice on the agreement’s contents and how they may affect you in the event of a future divorce. Getting independent legal advice is a requirement to give a pre-nuptial agreement any legal standing, as well as being simple good sense.

Negotiating pre-nuptial agreements

Where you are your spouse have agreed to have a prenup, but have not yet set the terms, we can help you to negotiate what to include in the agreement. Our family business lawyers are highly skilled in these matters and can help you to get a prenup that serves your interests while being fair to both parties.

Advising on the application of a prenup during divorce

If you are planning to initiate divorce proceedings, or your spouse has started the divorce process, we can advise you on the application of a pre-nuptial agreement if you have one.

We can provide guidance on what sort of settlement you stand to receive under the terms of the agreement and whether your prenup is likely to be taken into consideration by a judge if court proceedings are required.

We can also assist you in negotiating a divorce settlement using your pre-nuptial agreement as a starting point.

Alternatives to pre-nuptial agreements

There are various legal measures similar to prenups that can be used for couples in different circumstances.

Post-nuptial agreements – Offering similar protections to prenups but can be made at any time during your marriage.

Pre-civil partnership agreements – the same as pre-nuptial agreements, but for people entering civil partnerships. Also sometimes referred to as ‘pre-registration agreements’.

Our pre-nuptial agreement fees

We understand the need to be clear on how we charge for our services. You will always receive a realistic estimate of costs at the onset of your case.

If you have any immediate questions about our family business legal fees, please do not hesitate to ask us.

Why Chattertons is the right choice for pre-nuptial agreements for business owners

With strong expertise in both personal and business law across the firm, the team at Chattertons is particularly well-placed to provide advice on the full range of family legal matters that can affect business owners.

For many years, our team have been relied on by a wide range of business owners for the calm, experienced and clear approach we bring to what can be highly complex and emotive legal matters. We have earned a reputation for getting the outcome our clients need swiftly and cost-effectively, while avoiding unnecessary hassle and stress.

We are accredited by the Law Society for Family Law reflecting our expertise in advising families on all areas of law, including those related to marriage and divorce.

Our team includes several members of Resolution, the legal network for family lawyers who specialise in taking a non-confrontational approach to family legal matters. This reflects our skill and commitment in finding amicable ways to resolve legal disputes involving your family, such as those that often arise during divorce.

Clients often ask us…

Are pre-nuptial agreements legally binding?

Prenups are not legally binding under current English law, however, they will usually be taken into account by a judge during court proceedings as long as the agreement was properly prepared in the first place.

To have legal standing, a pre-nuptial agreement should:

  • Be in writing
  • Be fair to both parties
  • Include a full disclosure of all assets owned by both parties
  • Be signed at least 21 days before your date of marriage
  • Only be signed after both parties have taken independent legal advice
  • Not be signed under pressure or duress

It is also worth bearing in mind that a prenup will usually not be considered valid if there has been a significant change in your circumstances e.g. if you have had children since the agreement was made, unless this was specifically catered for in the original agreement.

If you have had a change of circumstances since you married, it may be worth considering making a post-nuptial agreement.

Will my business be part of the divorce settlement?

The starting point for any divorce settlement is that all of your assets, including any business interests, will be split fairly with your spouse. However, it is often possible to negotiate a more favourable split to protect specific assets (such as your business) as well as to reflect issues such as where the marriage was very short.

Should your divorce settlement go to court, a judge will generally attempt to prevent any damage to a business, especially where it is producing income to assist one or both spouses, or has employees whose jobs need to be protected. A judge could choose to give your spouse a bigger share of other assets, such as your home, savings and investments, allowing you to keep sole ownership of the business.  Every case will turn on its own merits however, and the courts have wide discretion as to how cases are determined.

However, there are no guarantees and it is never a good idea to leave these matters to chance, especially where the value of your business is substantial. This is why making a pre-nuptial agreement is strongly recommended to business owners.

What should I include in a pre-nuptial agreement?

As well as your business, you should also consider including any other significant assets you own in your prenup, including:

  • Your home
  • Any other property you own
  • Your savings
  • Shares and other investments
  • Your pension
  • Your car
  • Any other valued possessions or assets

Explore our other family business services

To find out more about the various legal services for family businesses that we provide, please visit one of the following pages:

Contact our family business solicitors about a prenuptial agreement today

If you are a business owner looking for expert assistance with a pre-nuptial agreement, you can contact our local teams in Boston, Grantham, Horncastle, Lincoln, London, Newark, Sleaford, Spalding or Stamford.

To ask a question or request a call back at a time that suits you, please use our simple enquiry form and a member of our team will get back to you quickly.