Expert advice on how to obtain a Prenuptial Agreement

A prenuptial, or premarital, agreement is an arrangement made by a couple before they marry or enter into a civil partnership. It dictates how their assets will be divided in the event of divorce proceedings or dissolution.
Premarital agreements provide clarity and security for couples, protecting their future interests and providing them with confidence in taking that next important step.

Purpose, function and benefits of a prenuptial agreement

Prenuptial agreements act as a safeguard for couples, who otherwise may be unable to establish equity following the breakdown of their partnership. Although prenuptial agreements are often viewed as a privilege for the rich and famous, many couples can benefit from such an arrangement. As the age of first marriages in the UK is increasing, many people find they have accumulated wealth by the time they decide to wed and don’t want to risk losing their assets should the marriage end in divorce, therefore, they want to make financial arrangements before marriage.

Far from being at odds with the romantic nature of marriage, a premarital agreement offers financial protection, secures assets, avoids confusion and mitigates the risk of conflict, allowing for peace of mind and contentment.

Common misconceptions about prenuptial agreements

There are various myths surrounding premarital agreements, and here we outline the most common:

- They only exist to protect one spouse’s wealth

No judge will accept an unfairly one-sided prenuptial contract, and these agreements are about not only protecting wealth but also securing possessions, spousal maintenance and children’s interests. Both party's financial circumstances are considered in this agreement.

- They can be obtained at any time

The agreement should be signed at least 28 days before the wedding to allow for the necessary legal aspects to be explained to both parties. A postnuptial contract, drawn up during a marriage, and a co-habiting contract, for non-married couples, are different kinds of agreement.

- They are only for very wealthy people

Prenuptial agreements can benefit anyone, rich or otherwise, as they can protect assets acquired before the partnership was made official, that is, assets of the spouse (e.g. pensions) and assets intended for any children (e.g. savings or property).

Legal considerations for prenuptial agreements

Another misconception about premarital agreements is that they are not recognised by the courts. Although these agreements are not always legally binding, and a judge is not obliged to endorse them; if the court deems the contract to be fair to both parties, it is likely to uphold it, so there is definite legal weight attached to these arrangements.

If it is believed that the agreement is heavily one-sided or that one spouse signed the document under duress, the contract will be dismissed. The key message here is that specialist legal advice should be sought prior to any agreement being prepared, and the contract should be professionally drafted by a family law solicitor, minimising the risk of issues down the line.

Another legal aspect to consider is that the agreement should be freely entered into by both parties. If the court suspects coercion, the prenuptial agreement will be invalidated. Both parties should fully understand the implications of the agreement, and the contract should be fair, with both parties’ needs being met.

The enforcing of a premarital agreement necessitates that it does not prejudice any children, and that there has been full financial disclosure by both parties: a complete and honest account of all assets, liabilities, income and potential inheritances.

What is included in a prenuptial agreement?

There are no hardened rules as to what can be included in a premarital arrangement, but the stipulations should be reasonable and enforceable.

The agreement can relate to the following:

  • Possessions and property separately owned before the marriage or civil partnership
  • Assets either individually or jointly acquired during the marriage or civil partnership
  • Savings, pensions and investments solely or jointly owned
  • Spousal maintenance
  • Assets intended for children from a previous relationship
  • Whether the agreement will be reviewed at a given point or periodically, as intentions and priorities can change over time
  • Whether the agreement will be valid after the death of one party

It’s important to remember that the courts will always consider the best interests of any children in the event of a marriage breakdown, regardless of any premarital agreement in place. However, a judge will be influenced by the agreement if it is fair and appropriate to the case.

Prenuptial versus postnuptial agreements

While premarital contracts are drafted prior to entering the marriage or civil partnership, postnuptial contracts are drawn up after the nuptial agreement. In many ways, these arrangements are identical in terms of what they include, but postnuptial agreements tend to be more scrutinised by the courts in the event of a divorce settlement or dissolution.

It is important to remember that many assets become matrimonial property at the moment ‘I do’ is uttered. These can include retirement assets, stock investments and property acquired during the marriage. Therefore, a postnuptial agreement should consider the division of marital assets, as well as any future earnings.

Is a solicitor required for a prenuptial agreement?

As is the case for any legal document, a prenuptial agreement can technically be drafted by a non-professional; however, specialist prenuptial agreement solicitors assistance is recommended for any and all important legal decisions. Enlisting the help of a family law solicitor can fully protect an individual from potential future problems, ensuring the prenuptial agreement is valid. It’s also a requirement that both parties receive legal advice prior to entering into the arrangement.

Specialist solicitors are there to provide expert legal advice, offering regular updates and using clear communication. They can answer any questions on the premarital agreement process and can utilise their expert knowledge of this legal field to mitigate the risk of future issues.

Why choose QualitySolicitors?

QualitySolicitors boasts a nationwide network of legal law firms – the largest in the UK. We offer independent legal advice and expertise but with a friendly, accessible and down-to-earth edge.

If you’re considering entering into a prenuptial agreement or just have questions about what such an arrangement entails, a team of family law solicitors are here for you. We offer a free, no-obligation initial consultation, where you can discuss any immediate questions or concerns with a legal professional. If you decide to proceed, you will be invited to engage with our £99 ‘Ask the Legal Expert’ service, where you meet face-to-face with a solicitor, who will go into more detail about the process.

QualitySolicitors’ legal professionals understand the importance of keeping in close contact with the client at every stage of the process, so we ensure that you receive the personal email address and telephone number of your solicitor and are kept up to date every step of the way.

Complete our online contact form or call 0808 258 1345, and speak to one of our friendly, expert solicitors today.


Posted in: Family Law
Tagged: family

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