You will often see stories in the news about celebrities who enter into prenuptial agreements to protect their extensive wealth if they separate from their spouse in the future. Whilst this is often the case, these stories have generated a myth that only the rich and famous – or people who have significant assets – would need to think about entering into this type of agreement before saying “I do”.
This is simply not the case and in fact, you may be surprised to learn that research carried out by thinktank Savanta ComRes indicated that around 1 in 5 people who have married since 2000 have entered into a prenuptial agreement.
What is a prenuptial agreement?
It is an agreement entered into between a couple intending to marry that sets out how the assets within a marriage shall be divided if the couple sadly separate in the future. In England and Wales, these agreements are not legally binding (and this remains the case), but since the landmark case of Radmacher v Granatino in 2010, the way they are viewed and dealt with by the courts has changed dramatically. If the terms of the agreement are ‘fair’ and both parties are able to meet their needs from their share of the assets, it is likely that the court will uphold the terms of the agreement entered into at the outset of the parties’ marriage.
What are the benefits of entering into a prenuptial agreement?
A well-drafted and properly considered prenuptial agreement can provide both parties with peace of mind about how their assets will be shared if they divorce. They can help to avoid potentially lengthy and costly litigation and allow both parties to move forward with their lives without the additional stress that can often arise.
Is a prenuptial agreement for me?
There can be many reasons why couples choose to enter into prenuptial agreements, and it is not always simply because one party is bringing significantly more than the other to the marriage (although this can be a reason). It may be that one or both parties are embarking on a second marriage, so they want to protect their own assets for their children from a previous marriage. Similarly, one of the parties may be involved in a family business and they want to protect their interest in that business. Other reasons may include money being gifted from family members or one party has received an inheritance that they want to protect.
What if I am already married?
An alternative (or even a useful addition) to a prenuptial agreement is for a couple to enter into a postnuptial agreement. This is an agreement that is entered into after a couple are married and works in the same way as a prenuptial agreement, by setting out the parties’ intentions as to how their assets will be divided between them if the marriage comes to an end.
The family law team are experts in brokering pragmatic and future-proof agreements for couples and offer a free initial first consultation, no matter how long it takes.
Please contact us in confidence.