Pre-Nuptial Agreements

Pre-nuptial agreements are becoming increasingly common in the United Kingdom especially with couples of considerable means.  Whilst pre-marital agreements are perceived by many to be pessimistic, unattractive and unromantic they are in reality a useful way of protecting yourself in the event of an unfortunate breakdown of marriage.  A pre-nuptial agreement can set out all the arrangements concerning financial matters well ahead of that breakup.  The agreement can avoid expense, wasted time and the acrimony commonly experienced in divorce settlements.

Under current law, pre-nuptial agreements may be upheld by the Court in England.

The general view among lawyers is that, in order to give a pre-nuptial agreement the best chance of being upheld by the court if it were subsequently challenged, the following needs to be borne in mind:

  • The agreement must be entered into voluntarily and of your own free will.
  • Both of your need to be separately and independently advised by a solicitor.
  • Full, frank and honest financial disclosure as to your assets and liabilities must be made and appended to the agreement
  • The agreement must entered into some time before the marriage takes place. 

Six weeks before is suggested as the minimum.  Anything less than three weeks is considered to be insufficient.

The agreement should be fair.  An agreement which is not fair is unlikely to be upheld.  To be fair, recognition will have to be given to changing the agreement as time goes by.  What is a fair division after a short marriage will not necessarily be fair after a marriage of many years.

It is important to review to pre-nuptial agreement over the course of the marriage and as the circumstances change.

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