What is a postnuptial agreement? banner


What is a postnuptial agreement?

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Many couples do not realise that they have the option of signing a postnuptial agreement. Although prenuptial agreements are increasingly common, few couples have heard about the benefits of a postnuptial agreement. Top London family law solicitors recommend couples think about signing a postnuptial agreement. A postnuptial agreement is the same type of document as a prenuptial agreement but signed after marriage.

The best London family law solicitors advise that a postnuptial agreement can be appropriate, whatever the length of the marriage. It is not just for couples who intended to sign a prenuptial agreement but did not get around to signing the prenuptial agreement prior to the wedding.

How can OTS Solicitors help? 

OTS Solicitors family law team provide advice on all types of relationship agreements including cohabitation agreements, civil partnership agreements, prenuptial agreements, postnuptial agreements and separation agreements.

At OTS Solicitors, we recognise that if you are thinking of drawing up a relationship agreement you need sensitive pragmatic family law advice on your options. We can prepare a postnuptial agreement or other types of relationship agreements to suit your family law needs. To discuss how the family law team at OTS Solicitors can help you with a postnuptial agreement or relationship agreement please call us on 0203 959 9123.

Who should sign a postnuptial agreement?    

Top London family law solicitors are questioned about who needs to sign a postnuptial agreement. One answer is that anyone who is in a relationship or married should sign a relationship agreement whether that is a cohabitation agreement, civil partnership agreement, prenuptial agreement or postnuptial agreement. That is because any type of relationship agreement sets out what should happen to family assets if a couple separate.

The relationship agreement can be as detailed or as simple as a couple choose to make it. The advantage of any relationship agreement is that it records what the couple think is a fair division of assets. If a couple split up the relationship agreement may help reduce the risk of contested and expensive family court proceedings. Some people think that any type of relationship agreement is unromantic but the best London family law solicitors advise that a relationship agreement is just sensible planning , a bit like signing a Will or Lasting Power of Attorney.

The best London family law solicitors advise that there are some triggers in a marriage when it can be sensible or opportune to consider signing a postnuptial agreement, namely:

  • If a husband or wife is receiving the gift of money from a parent or other relative to help towards a deposit on a first property or to enable the couple to buy a larger second family home; or
  • If a husband or wife is receiving a gift of money from a parent or other extended family member as part an estate-planning scheme. Sometimes a parent or family member will feel more comfortable about providing cash gifts if they know the family money is protected by a postnuptial agreement; or
  • If a husband or wife is told they are a beneficiary under a discretionary trust or a trust created in a Will. Sometimes the trustees are more comfortable providing capital or income distributions if they know that the trust fund distributions are ring fenced in a postnuptial agreement; or
  • If a husband and wife have married without signing a prenuptial agreement and both agree that a postnuptial agreement is a sensible option, for example to financially protect their children from earlier relationships; or
  • If the husband or wife are part of a family business and a relative wants to start transferring additional shares to the husband or wife as part of their business exit strategy but are wary of doing so without a postnuptial agreement in place; or
  • If a husband or wife married abroad and did not sign a prenuptial agreement in the country of marriage and married relatively quickly as a result of Home Office immigration  rules and entry clearance with spouse visas.

What is the purpose of a postnuptial agreement?

Postnuptial agreements are agreements drawn up during a marriage to record the financial agreement that a couple have reached over the division of family assets if they split up in the future. The agreement can cover all financial aspects such as claims over a business or pension and spousal maintenance or can simply ring fence an asset, such as an inheritance, a gift of money from a parent or money from a trust distribution. What is put in the postnuptial agreement is bespoke and individual to the couple who are signing the document.

Most people do not realise the extent of financial claims that a spouse can make after a relationship breaks down. A spouse can make claims for spousal maintenance, cash, property and pensions. An agreement sets out how a couple plan to sort things out if there is a future separation. The agreement can be detailed or not, depending on individual preferences. The agreement is intended to give peace of mind so that the couple both know where they stand financially.

What happens if there is no postnuptial agreement? 

If a husband and wife do not sign a postnuptial agreement and they separate either one of them could bring financial claims. The claims could be over assets owned by one of them prior to the marriage or inherited money or family gifts of cash or assets received through trust distributions.

Without a postnuptial agreement in place, the assets are more vulnerable. The best London divorce solicitors advise that the starting point for the family court when dividing assets is normally that assets should be split equally. The eventual outcome might be less than fifty percent depending on needs, length of the marriage and many other factors. That is why, in some family situations, prenuptial agreement and postnuptial agreements are a very sensible option as they limit financial claims.

What are the requirements for a postnuptial agreement?

Top London family law solicitors advise that for a postnuptial agreement to be effective there needs to be:

  • Financial disclosure; and
  • Independent legal advice; and
  • An agreement that is fair to both the husband and wife and meets needs.

The best London family law solicitors say signing a well-structured postnuptial agreement is sensible planning, just like other types of planning, such as a Will, trust deed or insurance policy.

How can OTS Solicitors help?

For expert legal advice on all types of relationship agreement, please contact the family law team at London based OTS Solicitors. The family law team will be happy to talk to you about your options and the type of relationship agreement that may best suit your needs. Please call us on 0203 959 9123 to discuss the options with an experienced family law solicitor. Call us on 0203 959 9123 and let us help you.     

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