Should I consider having a pre-nuptial agreement?

Mandeep Clair

Article written by Mandeep Clair, Family Solicitor

During the course of the past few years, many couples had to postpone their weddings, but this time gave them the opportunity to reflect on how they wish to manage their finances as a married couple and Grant Saw noticed an increase in clients seeking advice on pre-nuptial agreements. In this article, we look at what a pre-nuptial agreement is and what it does, when a pre-nuptial agreement is appropriate and what steps people should take next.

What is a pre-nuptial agreement?

A pre-nuptial agreement takes place before marriage or civil partnership and sets out how assets, capital, debts and pensions will be divided if the marriage or civil partnership were to break down and end in divorce. Pre-nuptial agreements are likely to be of interest to those who wish to protect their assets and interests.

When would a pre-nuptial agreement be appropriate?

A pre-nuptial agreement is useful for couples marrying later in life – a second marriage, for example, particularly if one party already has significant assets in their name. In such circumstances, a pre-nuptial agreement can ensure these assets are not “lost to the other spouse” in the event of a divorce. This may also apply to inherited assets.

How does the process work?

Each party would be required to instruct their own separate lawyer to ensure their interests are fully protected. Each lawyer will take full instructions from their client about what they wish to be included within the pre-nuptial agreement, their financial arrangements and wishes.

Once the two parties agree, they will both sign the pre-nuptial agreement which can then come into force immediately.

How long does it take?

If there are details to discuss, it could take several weeks for a pre-nuptial agreement to be agreed and signed by both parties. However, if necessary, the process can be completed in a shorter period of time, particularly if the agreement is relatively simple and both parties have agreed on the terms before starting the process.

It is important that the agreement is completed at least three weeks before a marriage or civil partnership ceremony, if possible. This is to avoid any challenge to the validity of the agreement later on the basis that the pending marriage/ civil partnership exerted unfair pressure to agree.

Do I need legal advice before entering a pre-nuptial agreement?

If you are considering a pre-nuptial agreement, you must seek independent legal advice. A pre-nuptial agreement can have a significant effect on a later divorce. To ensure the pre-nuptial agreement is effective, both spouses are required to confirm they have received legal advice and fully understand the implications of what they are signing.

For more information on pre-nuptial agreements or to discuss a family matter further, please feel free to email me or contact the team on 020 8858 6971.