Premarital (Pre-Nuptial & Post-Nuptial) Agreements
Popularized in countries such as the US, premarital agreements are becoming more and more popular in the UK in recent years. Pre-nuptial agreements and post-nuptial agreements, sometimes called prenups and postnups, are legal agreements which dictate what will happen if a couple gets divorced or legally separated in the future. These agreements usually apply to both marriages and civil partnerships in the same way. Here we will provide you with an overview of prenups and postnups, though it should be noted that pre-nuptial agreements are more common.
Why get a prenup?
The most common reasons for getting a pre-nuptial agreement relate to things such as wealth and assets, especially if one spouse has a considerable amount of future inheritance money coming their way, for example. A pre-nuptial agreement allows a spouse who has more money than the other (due to earned income or inheritance money) to get married without worrying about what will happen to their wealth if a divorce occurs. If one (or both) of the spouses want to retain parts of their estate from their previous marriage because they have children, they may use a prenup for this also. Pre-nuptial agreements can also be used to ascertain where jurisdiction proceedings can be issued, as well as to protect private companies which have shareholders agreements to adhere to. Prenups are designed to provide couples with transparency when it comes to their finances during (and potentially after) a marriage, allowing them to protect their interests before entering into a marriage.
The problem with pre-nuptial agreements in the UK
Prenups are not recognized by statute in the UK, which brings their value and legality into question. Many judges have carefully examined the terms of pre-marital agreements when making decisions in divorce proceedings, although they are not technically legally required to do so, and can disregard them if they feel it is appropriate. If a judge is to take a pre-nuptial agreement seriously in the UK, it must be demonstrated that the agreement was freely entered into by the parties, that the parties both understand the agreement’s implications before signing off on it, and that it is fair to hold the parties to the terms outlined in the pre-nuptial agreement. It is therefore very important to work with legal experts such as Gulbenkian Andonian Solicitors who understand how judges will most likely view a pre-nuptial agreement and make potential future decisions in the case of a divorce or separation.
Negotiating the terms of premarital agreements
Although it may be daunting for an engaged partner to bring up the notion of a pre-nuptial agreement with their partner, it may be necessary in order for them to feel secure when going into the marriage. Generally speaking, it is much easier to negotiate the terms of a potential future divorce than it is to negotiate terms when a marriage or civil partnership has already broken down and relationships have been soured. What the future spouses agree to as “fair” when they begin their marriage can often change when a relationship breaks down and emotions are running high. Agreeing on the terms of a potential divorce or separation before entering into marriage, therefore, offers the spouses security, especially if one of them has considerable wealth or is due to inherit a large sum of money in the future.
What are Post-nuptial agreements?
A post-nup or post-nuptial agreement is an agreement which is drafted after a couple has already married or entered into a civil partnership. Post-nups are used when the parties want to amend and/or confirm a premarital agreement, when they wish to reflect a change in their circumstances, or when they wish to alter the agreement due to the passing of time. For example, one spouse may have received a large sum of inheritance money during the marriage that they wish to protect, a child may be born during the marriage, one spouse may start a new business during the marriage, or the couple may want to record the beneficial interests of their existing assets during a marriage. These post-nuptial agreements, like prenups, are not legally binding in the UK, though judges will tend to abide by them if certain conditions are adhered to in the agreement.
Because prenups and postnups are not legally binding in the UK, it is essential to work with a firm who can ensure that your agreements hold as much weight as possible in the eyes of a judge. Gulbenkian Andonian Solicitors has many years of experience in premarital agreements and post-marital agreements; contact us today to find out how we can help you!