Pre-nuptial agreements set out what the parties agree should happen to each person's assets and finances in the event that their marriage breaks down. It gives both parties the opportunity to agree in advance what is fair, which can mean a less acrimonious and costly divorce.
The legal status of pre-nuptial agreements
For those considering entering into a pre-nuptial agreement, it is important to be aware of their legal status. Pre-nuptial agreements are not legally binding in England and Wales. The Court’s discretion to determine a financial remedy cannot be overridden; however the Court’s will give appropriate weight to agreements as a relevant circumstance of the case, provided they satisfy certain criteria.
What criteria does a pre-nuptial agreement need to satisfy?
- The agreement must be freely entered into by both parties. Neither party should be subject to undue influence or external pressure. There must be no duress, fraud or misrepresentation.
- Both parties should have full appreciation of the implications of the agreement.
- There should be disclosure by both parties of their financial situation.
- The agreement must be fair to both parties. If the effect of the agreement would be to leave one party in a predicament of real need while the other party is comfortably provided for, this is likely to be unfair.
- The agreement should be completed at least 28 days before the wedding.
- Both parties should have their own independent legal advice prior to entering the agreement.
What can the agreement provide for?
Pre-nuptial agreements can “ringfence” assets such as inherited assets, interests in a family business and property acquired before the marriage meaning the court is less likely to award a share of that property to the other party in any future divorce.
The pre-nuptial agreement can set out what will happen to other property including monies, shares etc. in the event of separation. It can record agreement reached regarding maintenance to the weaker financial party and support provisions in a will relating to assets on death.
Is it for me?
Pre-nuptial agreements are often suitable for those entering a second or subsequent marriage where they have assets they want to protect for children from a previous marriage or relationship. They are also suitable for those who have acquired wealth/assets and wish to protect the same.
If you would like to find out more information about pre-nuptial agreements, please contact us.
For a limited time, following an initial fixed fee appointment of £99.00 plus VAT, we are able to offer a 10% discount on all pre and post-nuptial agreements.
Jane Chandler is an Associate Solicitor based in our Solihull office. You can telephone her on 0121 685 8126 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.