Prenuptial and Post-nuptial Agreements: What’s all the Fuss About?

A couple holding hands in the shape of a heart with an engagement ringYou are no doubt becoming more aware of the concept of Prenuptial and Post-Nuptial agreements. They are now frequently mentioned in the media and on solicitor’s websites. However, often very little explanation is given as to what they are or who can benefit from them.

A prenuptial agreement is an agreement made between a couple prior to marriage. The idea being to avoid lengthy litigation in the event that later their marriage unfortunately breaks down.

A post-nuptial agreement is an agreement made at arm’s length between a married couple covering how money and property should be dealt with in the event of their relationship breaking down.

It was only in 2010 that the Supreme Court gave weight to suitably prepared prenuptial agreements. Post-nuptial agreements were endorsed slightly earlier in 2008.

The drafting of an agreement can be used to create boundaries between matrimonial and non- matrimonial property and to spell out existing property rights. It can allow inherited property to always remain the property of the person to whom it was given. Thus if you are in or entering a second marriage, particularly with children from a previous relationship, or have inherited family wealth, having an agreement prepared might be particularly helpful.

For an agreement to have full weight there needs to be an exchange of financial disclosure between parties.  Further, if the agreement is called into question, the court will consider issues such as; whether the agreement was signed under duress and the emotional state of a party when they entered into it. One might conclude that an agreement drawn up directly between the parties, if challenged through the court at a later date, might prove hard to enforce; compared to one with qualified lawyers involved in the drafting.

We are finding these agreements particularly popular with couples marrying for the second time and more and more, not just for the rich and famous.

If you would like to consider drawing up a prenuptial or post-nuptial agreement, then contact our Family Law team. Alternatively you can call us on: 01785 223440