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Who Needs a Pre-Nuptial Agreement?
November 15, 2023

No one goes into a marriage or civil partnership expecting it to end. However, with the divorce rate in England and Wales currently estimated to be around 42%, it is sensible for couples to look at ways of protecting themselves and their assets should their marriage or civil partnership break down.

In this blog, our experienced pre-nuptial Agreement lawyers answer some frequently asked questions about prenups.

What is a pre-nuptial agreement?

A pre-nuptial agreement (‘prenup’) is a formal contract entered into by a couple before their marriage or civil partnership. It states what will happen to their assets if their relationship ends and results in divorce or dissolution.

Who needs a pre-nuptial agreement?

A prenup is not essential for everyone. However, a pre-nuptial agreement can provide valuable protection to couples from all backgrounds and levels of wealth.

Detailing a couple’s finances and keeping a record of what they are each entitled to before their wedding day can provide much-needed peace of mind and help avoid costly and contentious court proceedings should the marriage end.

Prenuptial agreements are particularly beneficial in certain situations, including:

  • If one party is bringing more money or assets into a marriage.
  • To protect children from a previous marriage.
  • Where one party gives up work to raise any children.

What are the benefits of a pre-nuptial agreement?

A pre-nuptial agreement provides vital clarity and protection for couples in the event of a divorce or the dissolution of a civil partnership.

Prenups can:

  • Encourage open conversations about a couple’s finances and assets.
  • Determine how assets will be split upon divorce or dissolution.
  • Protect inherited money, assets, or savings.
  • Protect children’s inheritance.
  • Help protect business interests.
  • Protect one partner from the other partner’s debt.

What assets are included in a prenup?

Pre-nuptial agreements protect various assets and can be tailored specifically to a couple’s needs.

Assets typically covered in prenups include:

  • Savings.
  • Inherited wealth.
  • Property.
  • Income.
  • Businesses.
  • Stock options, investments, and shares in companies.
  • Accrued pensions.
  • Premarital debts.
  • Provision for future assets, such as inheritances.

Our team of Family and Matrimonial lawyers at Muscatt Black Graf has extensive experience creating pre-nuptial agreements to protect the financial interests of a variety of clients.

We have particular expertise in representing high-net-worth and high-profile individuals and have successfully drafted and enforced pre-nuptial agreements in many cases involving high incomes, family trusts, business interests, overseas assets and pensions.

Our client-focused approach is built on getting to know our clients, their needs, and their interests. By understanding our clients’ requirements, we can prepare legally binding agreements that successfully protect their assets and interests.

If you are looking for advice and guidance on pre-nuptial agreements and want to discuss your next steps, please email Muscatt Black Graf on contact@muscattblackgraf.com.

Is there anything that cannot be covered in a prenup?

Certain issues cannot be included in a prenuptial agreement. These include:

  • Child custody arrangements.
  • Child support.
  • Personal matters.
  • Illegal or unfair matters.
  • Lifestyle matters.

Can you change a pre-nuptial agreement after you are married?

A prenuptial agreement cannot be modified once it has been agreed and signed and cannot be updated after marriage.

However, a post-nuptial agreement works much the same way as a pre-nuptial agreement. Post-nuptial agreements are legal contracts created by spouses that outline the ownership of financial assets in the event of a divorce.

Post-nuptial agreements are entered into for various reasons, including:

  • To protect pre-acquired assets or wealth.
  • To manage the risks, costs, and uncertainty of relationship breakdown.
  • To minimise the risk of court proceedings after a divorce or dissolution of a civil partnership.
  • To protect the interests of children from a previous relationship.
  • To meet the requirements of family trusts.
  • To update the terms of a pre-nuptial agreement.
  • To address a discrete issue that may have arisen, such as a new business venture or inheritance.

Many couples choose to make a post-nuptial agreement if they relocate to the UK from overseas. Post-nuptial agreements can protect assets and provide some certainty in the event of a future divorce while couples live in this jurisdiction.

Are pre-nuptial agreements legally enforceable in the UK?

Pre-nuptial agreements are not always considered legally enforceable in England and Wales. However, the courts are showing an increasing willingness to abide by the terms set out in a pre-nuptial agreement, provided that it has been entered into correctly and is ‘fair’.

Several requirements must be met to make your pre-nuptial agreement more persuasive to the Court. These include:

  • A couple has each taken independent legal advice.
  • There has been full disclosure of all assets and liabilities.
  • The agreement allows for future family changes, for example, the arrival of children or if someone becomes seriously ill and cannot work.
  • Neither party has been unduly pressurised into signing.
  • The agreement is updated regularly.

Any discussions about pre-nuptial agreements should begin in good time, as signing too close to your wedding day or civil partnership ceremony could impact its validity.

Our experienced team of pre-nuptial agreement specialists can advise on how to proceed to ensure an agreement will be upheld and draft agreements to ensure a fair and amicable division of assets in case of a relationship breakdown.

Pre-nuptial Agreement Lawyers London

At Muscatt Black Graf, our Family Law solicitors can assist with initial discussions on pre-nuptial agreements, help with negotiations around the division of assets, and ensure that any pre-nuptial agreement is drafted to best protect our clients’ needs.

We can also represent clients who want to challenge the terms of a pre-nuptial agreement entered into with a partner and offer various dispute resolution options to achieve a positive outcome.

If you are looking for advice and guidance on pre-nuptial agreements and want to discuss your next steps, please email Muscatt Black Graf on contact@muscattblackgraf.com. Alternatively, click here to fill in our online contact form.

This blog was prepared on 9 November 2023. It is not intended to be advice and should not be relied upon as such.

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