Pre Nuptial Agreements – Should I get one?

Although Pre-nuptial agreements have traditionally been associated with wealthy celebrities they are now becoming more popular with couples in the UK. So why should they be used and how effective are they?

Pre-nuptial agreements are useful financial planning tools that document how married couples and civil partners would like their property to be divided in the event of the breakdown of their relationship. The contents of the agreement can vary depending on the individual circumstances and concerns, but often include provision for the division of property and maintenance.

Although pre-nuptial agreements are currently not legally binding in the UK, the Supreme Court ruling in the case of Radmacher in October 2010 changed the way in which pre-nuptial agreements are viewed.

The Supreme Court stated that pre-nuptial agreements should be given decisive weight in divorce proceedings, provided that the parties entered the agreement freely and that they have a full appreciation of the implications of the agreement.

Earlier this year, the Law Commission also published a report that proposed the introduction of “qualifying nuptial agreements”. Whether pre- or post-nuptial, such agreements would qualify for enforcement by the courts. The report came along with a draft “Nuptial Agreements Bill”, which presented the proposals in legislative format.

At around the same time that these Law Commission recommendations were published, a Private Members’ Bill (The Divorce [Financial Provisions] Bill) was introduced to the House of Lords. If this bill is approved, it will have the same effect as the “Nuptial Agreements Bill” by enshrining nuptial agreements in law so that courts are obliged to uphold them.

Therefore whilst pre-nuptial agreements are not at this moment in time formally legally binding, they have now been clarified and can be given decisive weight provided that they have been properly drafted. They are a clear record of the parties’ intentions and should be upheld, provided they have been entered into freely, the parties fully appreciate the implications and they are reasonable.

Pre-nuptial agreements are becoming standard practice before marriage, and far from being unromantic, they are a necessary part of sensible personal financial planning.

It is essential that the Solicitor drafting the Pre or Post Nuptial Agreement is aware of the requirements expected and this is where our Family Team can help you. If you feel that you would benefit from legal advice then please do not hesitate to contact us on 0871 474 30 30. 24 hours a day. 7 days a week.

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