Have You Considered a Prenuptial Agreement?

Prenups might not be the most romantic entry on the list of things to do before you get married, but they could be one of the most important. With the ONS reporting rising divorce rates for both opposite and same sex couples, drafting a prenuptial agreement is well worth considering if you’re planning to marry your partner. No longer the preserve of the rich and famous, having a prenup put in place before the big day is increasing in popularity with couples across the board.

What does a prenuptial agreement cover?

A prenup is a contract between you and your partner that covers all the important issues that have the potential to be sticking points should your marriage break down. While it might not be something you want to think about, it pays to be practical about protecting yourself for the future.

The document details what will happen to both your individual and jointly owned assets. There’s no ‘one size fits all’ here. Just as every couple will have their own unique assets and circumstances, so every prenuptial agreement will be different. However, a prenup will typically cover things like:

  • The division of savings, pensions and other financial assets
  • Who gets what share of the family home
  • What happens to business assets that both or either of you hold
  • What percentage of your spouse’s debts you may be liable for
  • What claim children from previous relationships may have on marital assets
  • Who gets custody of the family pets if you divorce
  • Whether you will be entitled to a share of any inheritance your spouse receives

It’s easy to see why a prenup can be invaluable in protecting your interests in the event of a divorce. Not only can it make the process of dividing assets fairly more straightforward, but it also gives both parties clarity during what can be a very difficult time. Even an amicable divorce can be a stressful and emotional process. If your relationship sours to the point where it has become contentious, having a prenuptial agreement to fall back on could make all the difference in helping you get through the process and move forward more quickly.

Is a prenup legally enforceable in the UK?

Strictly speaking, prenuptial agreements are not legally enforceable contracts. However, the courts generally do uphold prenups that meet certain criteria. Namely:

  • Both parties freely entered into the agreement and there was no duress on either side
  • Both parties must understand the contents and implications of the agreement
  • There is full disclosure from both parties
  • Both parties must have taken legal advice
  • The agreement must be fair and both parties’ needs should be met
  • The agreement must have been made more than 28 days before the wedding
  • The document should satisfy the legal requirements of a contract
  • It should not prejudice any children

For further information on the necessary criteria, see the Law Commission Report.

While there can be circumstances under which the courts may decide to set a prenup aside, the majority of such agreements are upheld. In cases where prenups fail, it is usually because the courts consider the agreement is no longer fair due changes in one or both parties’ life circumstances (for example, the loss of a job, health problems or the birth of a child). Once you have a prenup in place, a regular review as to its enforceability is a wise precaution.

Is a prenuptial agreement right for me?

A prenup can be a very useful document for any couple considering marriage, but it is particularly important if you will be bringing considerable or complex assets to the table. Divorce is not something happily engaged couples want to think about, but the reality is that many marriages do fail. If you’re not prepared for this possibility, you may find yourself parting with precious assets you had never considered you might lose. 

At Rowberry Morris, our experienced, friendly solicitors are experts in helping couples reach a fair agreement on what will happen in the event of a divorce. If you’d like to talk to our family lawyers about drafting a prenuptial agreement, please get in touch with your nearest Rowberry Morris office.

  • Reading: 01189 585 611
  • Richmond: 01784 457 655
  • Staines: 01784 457 655
  • Tadley: 01189 812 992

The contents of this article are intended for general information purposes only and shall not be deemed to be, or constitute legal advice. We cannot accept responsibility for any loss as a result of acts or omissions taken in respect of this article.