With the number of divorce cases increasing each year in the UK, more and more couples are considering entering into a Prenuptial Agreement before they tie the knot to try to help prevent costly, lengthy and often hostile battles at court if their relationship comes to an end.  This leaflet is designed to explain Prenuptial Agreements – what they are, how they work, the advantages of having one – and to help you decide if one might be right for you.

What are Prenuptial Agreements?

A Prenuptial Agreement is a written agreement between two people who are about to get married or enter into a civil partnership.  The agreement sets out who owns what at the time of marriage or civil partnership and how the couple envisages that their assets should be divided if the couple should separate or divorce.  They can also cover the couple’s intentions regarding their children.

Are they legally binding?

These agreements are still not strictly enforceable or legally binding in UK law.  Unlike a commercial contract you cannot sue on a Prenuptial Agreement and there is always the possibility that if the marriage breaks down the court will not uphold the terms of the Prenuptial Agreement.  However, following a recent Supreme Court decision in the case of Radmacher vs Granatino 2010 the legal weight of such agreement has since been significantly strengthened and they are now more likely to be upheld if they are not held to be unfair.  In that case it was said “the court should give effect to a nuptial agreement that is freely entered into by each party with the full appreciation of its implications unless in the circumstances prevailing it would not be fair to hold the parties to the agreement”.  Thus whilst not currently strictly enforceable a properly prepared Prenuptial Agreement should give a large measure of protection to the economically stronger spouse. They could be totally effective on the breakdown of the marriage if drafted and signed properly with both parties receiving independent legal advice and with the agreement signed at least 4 weeks before the marriage to avoid any arguments at a later stage that one party was coerced into signing the agreement immediately prior to marriage.  It is essential therefore that proper legal advice is obtained before entering into such an agreement.

If agreements do become legal by the introduction of new legislation as is being suggested at the moment, then there will be increased pressure on Solicitors to ensure that the agreement is absolutely right for the parties and in addition the engaged couple planning to marry must consider carefully the terms of the agreement they wish to enter.  Sound legal advice on the contents, drafting and effects of a Prenuptial Agreement cannot be emphasised enough. 

What are the advantages of having one?

Prenuptial Agreements are a good way of protecting family assets or property acquired before the marriage.  They can also help provide financial security if there are any children from previous relationships or marriage.  They can often make any future separation more straightforward and therefore less stressful for both parties.

They may also save time and costs as having a Prenuptial Agreement which is valid and fair may help avoid long court proceedings regarding finances if the relationship ends.

How much they cost?

We can offer a fixed price for Prenuptial Agreements.

If you would like to discuss these arrangements with us or have a query in relation to any divorce or family law matter then please contact Noelle Heath on 033 3344 9600, email her at noelle.heath@morrishsolicitors.com or complete our contact us form.