What is a prenup?

Considered unromantic by many, prenuptials or prenups (also known as ‘nuptial agreements’) can be invaluable for couples planning to get married who want to enter into an agreement to determine financial arrangements, should the marriage break down.

When wedding plans start and excitement and romance are in the air what is often not included in those plans is a pre nuptial agreement. But should it? Should it be an essential item on the list along with the wedding dress and cake? Couples get married later these days. They may already have accumulated wealth or own a property or have an inheritance. Or it could be a second marriage where one or both parties are wealthy in their own right? It is considered unromantic to raise this issue at a time of hope when plans for a long and happy future together are being made. We think nothing of making a will to protect our assets when we die and insurance against unexpected events such as long term illness or redundancy. Why wouldn’t we want to protect those same assets when entering a marriage?

If the marriage fails it could be one way of ensuring that there is no expensive divorce. An insurance policy if you like against legal fees.

Pre nuptial agreements are still not automatically binding in England and Wales. For the best chance of being upheld by the court on a divorce it must be fair both at the time it was entered into and at the time of the divorce. It should therefore be reviewed regularly throughout the marriage and on certain events occurring such as a child being born or on receipt of an inheritance. Both parties must have fully disclosed their financial position before the agreement is entered into and independent legal advice taken. It should also be signed as far as possible in advance of the wedding.

Whilst prenuptials are more common, couples can also draw up a nuptial agreement after they are married, referred to as a postnuptial.

Nuptial agreements are particularly advisable where one or both parties have significant pre marital assets that they wish to protect. These can include property, business or inherited assets. The agreement can also incorporate a couple’s future expectations (i.e. children) and the financial implications on them should the marriage end.

Over the last few years we have seen a rise in the number of clients requesting a prenuptial agreement.

The reason for this is that English law has developed significantly in terms of the status and weight given to marital agreements, including nuptial agreements. Whereas in the past, these agreements were often ignored, now it’s increasingly likely that they will be upheld in court.

However, it is worth consulting a specialist family lawyer such as Betteridges to draw up your agreement, as courts in England are more likely to follow the terms of a nuptial agreement if there is proof of the following:

  • That you have both received independent, specialist legal advice;
  • That no one was put under any pressure to sign the agreement;
  • That the agreement is in line with what a court would consider to be fair;
  • That each of you fully understand the implications of the agreement.

We would also advise contacting us to review your current nuptial agreement every five years or if your circumstances change in any way; for example, if you have children together.

Next steps

If you are considering a nuptial agreement or you have signed an agreement and require advice, or if you would like to review your current agreement, please contact us on 0333 12 12345 (International callers +44 1992 505 406), complete our Online Enquiry Form or email to arrange a face-to-face or telephone discussion