Should We Get a Prenuptial Agreement?

File:Horemans, Jan Josef I. - The Marriage Contract - 1768.jpgA prenuptial agreement is an arrangement made between a couple in which individual assets can be protected in the event that the marriage should fail.

Couples are now meeting and marrying later; people enter into relationships with their own finances, their own properties, portfolios or businesses. In previous generations people began married life having been gifted their possessions from family and friends. Today however, we're more financially independent and we bring our own pots to the marriage table.

If marriage is the Game of Life, then divorce, by comparison, can descend into a hungry-hippo grab for assets. Nobody wants to believe that a pre-nup is necessary but, when the worst happens, it may be the only thing that makes a bad situation bearable.

A pre-nup is about recognising the inherent risk of marriage (unromantic as that may sound) rather than endorsing that risk by failing to protect your interests. Nobody goes on holiday expecting to be hit by a bus, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't take out travel insurance.

Pre-nups are becoming increasingly popular in the UK, with many courts applying them in the divorce proceedings. Providing that they were drawn up correctly, fairly and with the consent of both sides, a court is likely to respect their prescription for decoupling finances.

They are not however, legally binding at this moment. Although, this does look likely to change in the future. 

If the idea of a pre-nup makes you feel uncomfortable, then treat it like life insurance or as if you were drawing up a living will or applying for a donor card: prepare for the worst and hope for the best.

Without a pre-nup, the courts will look to split your possessions down the middle. This might be the fairest thing for you and your partner, but this assumes an equal split, and this isn't always accurate.

Agreements made when two people still respect each other will be fairer and more realistic than those made following the breakdown of a relationship. They can be vital, too, if you have children from a previous relationship to consider or if you have any additional financial dependents. 

Getting a Pre-Nup

If you do decide to get a pre-nup, there are a number of factors that you may wish to consider. Please remember however, that we are not professional legal advisers and any information given here is meant only as a basic introduction. As a pre-nup is a legal agreement, it's important that you understand your rights and options by speaking to a professional.

  • Your wedding ceremony should take place at least 3 weeks after you've signed the pre-nup.
  • You and your partner should consult different lawyers. This way both partners can be assured of impartial and considered advice.
  • Don't be tempted to use a pre-nup template that you've found online. These templates do not compare to legitimate legal advice tailored made to your situation.
  • Remember to update your pre-nup every few years and update it whenever any substantial financial change occurs to your situation.

In February 2014, The Law Commission published the Matrimonial Property, Needs and Agreement Report which recognised the potential benefits of pre-nuptial agreements; they went on to recommend a change in legislation. Only time will tell if prenuptial agreements will become part of the marital landscape in the UK.

Hopefully, they will, at least, become a viable option for those wishing to protect their own investments.

Did you have a pre-nup? Would you consider one? We'd love to hear your thoughts.

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