Premarital Agreements: Civil Partnerships

Before entering into a civil partnership with one another, couples can choose to draft a pre-civil partnership agreement. This formal agreement is designed to dictate how the couple’s finances and assets will be split in the event that their civil partnership dissolves due to their relationship breaking down. A pre-civil partnership agreement is a bit like a pre-nup for a civil partnership, the main difference being that it applies to civil partnerships rather than marriages.

How enforceable is a pre-civil partnership agreement?

In Scotland, pre-civil partnership agreements are legally binding documents which should be entered into with much care. In England, Wales, and Northern Ireland however, pre-civil partnership agreements are not legally binding documents, serving more as guidelines for judges when making decisions. The same is true for pre-nuptial marriage agreements too. Providing that the agreement was fully understood by both parties when signing, and that the parties both freely entered into the agreement when it was signed, a court may distribute a former couple’s assets and finances according to the pre-civil partnership agreement. However, the decision is ultimately up to the judge, and there may be some reasons why they will not follow the terms outlined in a pre-civil partnership agreement when ruling.

Why may a judge disregard a pre-civil partnership agreement?

If a judge believes that one of the parties signed the agreement under pressure or against their will, then they may disregard the agreement when dividing up a couple’s finances and assets after a civil partnership has ended. The same applies if one of the parties did not disclose relevant information when the agreement was signed, or if the court deems it unfair to hold the parties to the agreement at the time of the civil partnership’s dissolution. This may occur, for example, if circumstances have changed or if the couple now has children which were not present when the pre-civil partnership agreement was drafted.

How do I create a pre-civil partnership agreement which a judge will take seriously?

As aforementioned, a judge doesn’t legally have to follow the terms of your agreement when dividing up your assets and finances upon a civil partnership’s dissolution. If you want your agreement to hold weight, there are a few things you need to take into account. First of all, ensure that each party has full and frank disclosure of the other party’s financial wealth. Second, ensure that the agreement is signed voluntarily and without pressure. Third, both parties should seek legal advice from different solicitors, as this proves that they fully understood the agreement’s implications. Fourth, ensure that there is a time gap between the agreement being signed and the civil partnership being registered, as this implies that there was no “rush” or “pressure” to sign the agreement for one of the parties. Finally, ensure that the pre-civil partnership agreement is updated when circumstances change for one or both of the partners, taking into account things such as new children, inheritance money, and large asset purchases.

What should a pre-civil partnership agreement cover?

Pre-civil partnership agreements act as pre-nups for civil partnerships; the partners should decide between them how their assets and finances will be divided up in the event that their civil partnership ends. Ideally, a pre-civil partnership agreement should ensure that the finances and assets of a civil partnership will be divided between the two parties if they separate without court proceedings being necessary. When drafting up a pre-civil partnership agreement, the parties should ideally detail the details of their joint assets and separate assets, specifying how the joint assets will be split up if the civil partnership breaks down and ends. The agreement should also detail how the couple’s marital home will be owned/sold/split if the civil partnership comes to an end.

If you’re about to enter into a civil partnership and you’re interested in getting a “pre-nup for a civil partnership”, then get in touch with Gulbenkian Andonian Solicitors today! Our experienced team has a lot of experience with these agreements and can help you to draft an agreement which will leave both parties happy and hold weight in the eyes of a judge.