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Prenuptial Agreements

During the early stages of a relationship, it can be hard to contemplate the relationship ever ending. It can also be the last thing that you want to contemplate as you are planning a wedding. However, the reality is that around 42% of marriages end in divorce, which can have a major impact on your lives including issues surrounding finances and assets. A couple can protect themselves with the use of a properly drafted prenuptial agreement that details the parties’ wishes before they entered into the marriage or civil partnership and can be used during the divorce process if that situation ever did arise. Ensuring that you get expert legal advice is very important to make sure that your rights are correctly protected in case the agreement is ever needed. Our expert lawyers can guide you through the whole process and ensure that your interests are properly protected and provide a degree of certainty during uncertain times. Here we discuss what a prenuptial agreement is and how they can ensure your rights are protected in the future. 

What is a Prenuptial Agreement and do I need one?

A prenuptial agreement is a formal agreement entered into by a couple before they get married or enter a civil partnership. It details the couple’s wishes on how their finances will be divided if the relationship were to end and can help avoid conflict and lengthy periods of uncertainty while decisions are made via the Courts. It can also cover other matters, such as property and business ownership. They are becoming increasingly popular and can be very useful in situations where one of the parties already has significant wealth or if one or both parties are remarrying but has children from a previous marriage.

Currently, prenuptial agreements are not automatically legally binding in this country. Their use and enforceability have been determined with reference to case law rather than any legislative basis. The Law Commission published a report in 2014 that covered prenuptial agreements and recommended that they should be recognised as enforceable contracts if they met certain criteria. Although the Government noted the recommendations, to date nothing been brought around any reform. It is something to bear in mind though that prenuptial agreements may be legally enforceable in the future. It must also be remembered that the Courts are increasingly allowing prenuptial agreements to be binding where they adhere to the following principles:

  • The parties needed to have received independent advice. This indicates that the Courts will expect lawyers to have been involved in the agreement as opposed to parties drafting the agreement between themselves.
  • Both parties made full and frank financial disclosure.
  • There was a reasonable period between signing the prenuptial agreement and the date of the wedding- the Law Commission’s recommendation is that the agreement is entered into at least 28 days before the wedding. This would help avoid the parties falling foul of the criteria that the prenuptial agreement must not be signed under duress.

A prenuptial agreement will need to be valid in the country that it applies to, so if there are assets abroad or the parties spend time in other parts of the world then this will need to be taken into account to make sure that the agreement is valid in the relevant countries.

Fairness is the overriding principle that the Courts consider when they are determining the division of assets and wealth in a divorce. They will examine the principle of sharing (where there is enough assets for both parties’ needs to be fulfilled), need (where there are not enough assets to cover both parties’ needs then the Court will look at the financially weaker party gaining more of the assets, usually the one that has the children living with them) and compensation (where one party has given up work in order to raise the family then they should be compensated for this even if they did not add to the couple’s overall wealth since they were not able to work). A prenuptial agreement can be used to override these concepts. However, it should be noted that the courts will not allow the interests of the children to be adversely prejudiced by such an agreement. The Courts though do not necessarily see an issue with assets that pre-dated the marriage to be removed from those that should be divided between the two parties.

An agreement discussing the possible future breakdown of a relationship is always going to be a difficult conversation. Added to this is the fact that the agreements will often involve other family members, for example in relation to future inheritance as well as any family trusts. The fact that the parties need to give full and frank financial disclosure can uncover information that reveals differences in each parties’ expectations and viewpoints. The fact that these agreements are usually drawn up when you are planning a wedding adds to the stresses of the situation. Our specialist lawyers can ensure that we protect your interests in a sensitive, diplomatic and understanding way to alleviate some of these strains and concerns.

What is included in a prenuptial agreement?

The agreement cannot cover the financial provisions to be made for any children. What it can be used for is the division of assets and/or income. It may be that the agreement does not need to cover the income of the parties and this can be left to be determined during the divorce proceedings. It may also be advisable to have a clause that allows for a review, for example, if there is an expectation that the wealth or income of one of the parties may decline over time.

Contact Family Law Bradford Expert Prenuptial Agreement Solicitors Today

If you are thinking of getting a prenuptial agreement then contact our expert Family Law Solicitors, who can talk to you about your individual case. We realise that this can be a difficult conversation and our empathetic lawyers will ensure that we give the best possible advice while being sympathetic to your feelings. We will discuss the facts relating to your individual case and advise you on the best route to ensure that your rights and interest are protected and to prevent future difficulties if the relationship were to end.

Call us on 01274 350 546 or fill out our online enquiry form.

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