It’s that time of year when the wedding season is in full swing. Many couples understandably focus on the main event itself, however an ever-increasing number of couples are considering the question of whether they need a Pre-Nuptial agreement.
Whilst previously regarded as unromantic, or even pessimistic, to enter into a Pre-Nuptial agreement, couples are frequently more aware of the effect their marriage could have on their financial future. Many people now marry later in life and with established assets of their own or have experienced the uncertainties that arise in the absence of clear agreement.
A Pre-Nuptial agreement is like insurance, and is a contract entered into between two parties before they marry. It records the ownership of assets, and details what will happen to those assets should be the marriage break down.
In the past, Pre-Nuptial agreements were considered the preserve of wealthy individuals and celebrities. However, they are becoming increasingly common, and there is a developing view that they are a sensible way of starting out in marriage with a shared intention of trust and openness. In fact, the Marriage Foundation conducted a survey in August 2021 which found that one in five couples who married since 2000 had some form of Pre-Nuptial agreement in place.
The law in relation to married couples is different to couples who cohabit. Cohabitants who separate simply retain their own separate property. Once married, assets you previously owned before marriage may become a matrimonial asset. This means that if the marriage ends, those assets could be held to be in the “matrimonial pot” and shared. A Pre-Nuptial agreement allows for each party to clearly ring-fence certain assets to protect them from this scenario.
Pre-Nuptial agreements are legal documents that can be considered by the court in the event of later divorce. The court will decide what weight to attach to the agreement. In doing so, the court looks at the agreement in the context of the circumstances in which it was made. There are certain criteria that must be met to ensure that a Pre-Nuptial agreement can have the best possible chance of being upheld, and therefore it is important to seek specialist legal advice on the subject.
It is also possible to enter into a Nuptial agreement after marriage, and in this scenario the name of the agreement is a “Post-Nuptial agreement”. A Post-Nuptial agreement can also be upheld in the same way as a Pre-Nuptial agreement provided it meets the same criteria.
Greene & Greene have a specialist family team who prepare bespoke Pre-Nuptial and Post-Nuptial Agreements. We also have extensive and successful experience enforcing the terms of pre and post nuptial agreements at court.
This is only intended to be a summary and not specific legal advice. If you would like further information or advice, please do contact a member of our team.