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Prenuptial Agreement Lawyers – Your Questions Answered on Prenuptial Agreements

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As specialist prenuptial agreement lawyers, we are used to being quizzed about whether a prenuptial agreement is legally binding in the UK or whether or not you should ask your fiancée to sign one.

In this blog, our family law solicitors have put together your FAQs on prenuptial agreements and our answers.

Online and London Family Law Solicitors and Prenuptial Agreement Lawyers

For family law advice on prenuptial agreements call the expert London family lawyers at OTS Solicitors on 0203 959 9123 or complete our online enquiry form.

What is a prenuptial agreement?

A prenuptial agreement or prenup is an agreement entered into by a couple who are planning on getting married and who want to record their agreement on what will happen to their assets and family property if they split up.

You may also read about postnuptial agreements. They are the same as a prenuptial agreement but are signed by a couple after their marriage.

Should all engaged couples sign a prenuptial agreement?

Prenuptial agreement lawyers recommend that anyone thinking about marriage consider signing a prenuptial agreement. There are some situations where entering into a prenuptial agreement seems more obvious than others but, in every scenario, it is best to reach an agreement over a future financial settlement if you split up from your spouse so you do not end up in bitter or expensive divorce financial settlement court proceedings.

Some of the obvious triggers for thinking about a prenuptial agreement are:

  • One of you has significant pre-marriage assets – this could be because you have inherited a family business or property portfolio or it could be your divorce financial settlement from an earlier marriage or something as straightforward as a property bought by you before you met your fiancée
  • You have children from previous relationships and you want to protect your children by limiting any divorce financial settlement claim if your marriage is of short duration
  • You have not known your fiancée for long but you are getting married. For example, this may be for immigration-related reasons so your partner can gain UK entry clearance via a spouse visa or can remain in the UK on a family visa
  • There is a big income or savings or property differential between you and your partner
  • You or your fiancée come from a wealthy background and extended family members have recommended a prenuptial agreement so the family can continue to estate plan and provide lifetime gifts or capital or income distributions under a discretionary trust, knowing that family wealth will be protected by the prenuptial agreement

If you are not sure if a prenuptial agreement is the best option for you or not then call our expert prenuptial agreement lawyers on 0203 959 9123.

How does a prenuptial agreement work?

When a prenuptial agreement lawyer prepares an agreement for you, they will try to make the agreement as flexible as possible so that the agreement will work for you whether you separate after 5 years or 15 years of marriage. For example, rather than refer to a specific family home and the address of the property the agreement will specify the family home you are living in at the date of separation and refer to dividing equity in percentages rather than a specified figure because of the impact of inflation or rising London property prices.

The prenuptial agreement can include a review provision so that if circumstances change dramatically the agreement can be tweaked provided you both agree to the changes. For example, one of you may unexpectantly receive a large inheritance that was not contemplated at the time you signed the agreement.

Are prenuptial agreements binding?

Current English family law says that prenuptial agreements are not legally binding but if an agreement is drawn up properly and fairly it is more likely than not that the court will have regard to the agreement and make a financial court order in the same or similar terms to the prenuptial agreement. You should therefore not write off signing a prenuptial agreement because they aren’t a binding contract. The agreement can save some people a lot of money and also give you and your future spouse peace of mind.

What factors help make a prenuptial agreement carry weight with the divorce court?

Prenuptial agreement lawyers say that the following factors are important when signing a prenuptial agreement:

  • Was the agreement entered into voluntarily and without duress?
  • Did both parties to the agreement provide financial disclosure so they could both make informed decisions on whether or not to sign the agreement?
  • Did both parties take their own independent legal advice on the agreement?
  • Was the agreement signed at least 28 days before the marriage?
  • Are the terms of the agreement fair? Do the terms of the agreement meet the reasonable needs of the husband and wife?

What should be included in a prenuptial agreement?

A prenuptial agreement is bespoke to you and your fiancée. Some couples want their agreement to ringfence a particular asset so it is ignored in any future divorce financial settlement court proceedings. For example, you may want to ringfence an inheritance, a pension, a family business, or a property owned before your marriage. Other couples want their agreement to be more comprehensive and to cover the terms of any divorce financial settlement. For example, to say that neither party to the marriage will claim spousal maintenance or that any spousal maintenance claim is limited to 3 years of payments.

Prenuptial agreement lawyers will tell you that what should be included in your prenuptial agreement is very much down to your circumstances. The key point is that the terms of the agreement need to be fair and reasonable because if they are not then you risk the court saying that the agreement should not carry weight. For example, your fiancée may be willing to sign an agreement to say that they will walk away with nothing if you separate. That may not be in your best interests if ‘nothing’ leaves them unable to rehouse themselves and any children as the court would say that isn’t fair as it doesn’t meet needs.

On the other hand, if your fiancée agrees to a 30% share of the family assets in the prenuptial agreement this may count as a reasonable settlement and be upheld even though if there was no signed prenuptial agreement then a claim might potentially have been successful for 50% of the family assets. A carefully worded prenuptial agreement can significantly reduce the size of a divorce financial settlement.

Online and London Family Law Solicitors and Prenuptial Agreement Lawyers

For family law advice on prenuptial agreements call the expert London family lawyers at OTS Solicitors on 0203 959 9123 or complete our online enquiry form.

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