A prenuptial agreement is a formal agreement entered into by a couple prior to a marriage or civil partnership. The document sets out how their assets will be divided in the event of them divorcing or separating.
Prenuptial agreements are often sought where one partner has substantial wealth prior to the marriage, and seeks to protect that wealth in the event of the marriage failing.
For example, in some cases they are entered into to protect existing family assets in the shape of future inheritance. If a family has substantial wealth, and one partner has an expectation of inheriting that wealth during the marriage, they may plan to protect that wealth by making a prenuptial agreement.
Is a Prenuptial Agreement legally binding in England?
Prenuptial agreements are not legally binding in the UK at present. A Judge may take a prenuptial agreement into account when overseeing a case and is likely to uphold it, as long as certain safeguards have been met. Recent cases show that prenuptial agreements are being upheld in many instances. For an agreement to be upheld, the following safeguards should be met:
- Neither party was under pressure or duress to sign the agreement against their will.
- There has been no significant change which would make the agreement inappropriate (for example, the birth of children).
- The husband and the wife both received independent legal advice about the agreement at the outset.
- Full and frank financial disclosure of both parties’ assets was made prior to the agreement. Assets were not hidden.
- The agreement has to be fair and realistic. If the division of assets is weighted too heavily in the favour of one party, it may be judged to be unfair by the courts.
- The agreement must not be entered into less than 21 days before the marriage.
- Pre-nuptial agreements should be reviewed and amended during the course of the marriage, particularly when any child or children are born and periodically in any event.
If you would like more information on entering into a prenuptial agreement, contact us to speak to one of our experienced family solicitors.