Q. What is a prenuptial agreement and is it a legally valid document in England and Wales?
A pre-nuptial agreement, better known as a pre-nup, is a written contract between two people who are due to marry, setting out how the couple wish their assets and income to be divided should they get divorced in the future. These are very common where one or both have substantial assets, or if either have children form a previous relationship and they wish to preserve funds/assets for them.
Pre-nups are not legally binding, however, the Court should take this into account when assessing how assets should be divided as it shows the couples intentions at the time.
Q. Why should couples consider making a prenuptial agreement?
Although pre-nups are not legally binding, they do show the couples intentions at the outset of their marriage, and are used by the Court on assessing how the assets should be divided when making a Financial Order. It has been shown that the Court will give substantial weight to a valid pre-nup when deciding how to approach the matter and do not tend to deviate substantially from this unless they feel it just and equitable to do so.
Q. How can a solicitor help someone make a prenuptial agreement?
A solicitor can help you identify the various assets, and future assets, which can be taken into account when entering into a pre-nup; they can also assist in identifying eventualities to also be considered. Many couples only think about their assets at the point of entering into the agreement, and not future property, inheritance etc.
Q. What should someone do if they're asked to sign a prenuptial agreement?
If your partner asks you to sign a pre-nup you should take independent legal advice to ensure that you fully understand the ramifications of signing this agreement, and to ensure that it properly takes into account your financial positions, and potential future financial positions.
Q. What should be included in a prenuptial agreement?
When deciding on what to include in a pre-nup, you should consider the following:
- how debts should be handled?
- how to divide your assets i.e. should one spouse retain the family home if you have children?
- What if you receive any specific gifts made out to you, and not as a couple?
- If you have children, how should their maintenance costs be divided?
- If you have children from a previous relationship, do you want to preserve funds for them?
- If you have any business interests, how you like these to be dealt with?
As you can see, there is a variety of things that you must take into consideration when entering in to a pre-nup, there is not an exhaustive list setting out what should be taken into account and what should not, it is completely based on your situation. However, a solicitor should be able to assists in identifying what should be included in your individual case.
Q. What happens during a divorce if the couple has a prenuptial agreement?
A pre-nup, despite not being legally binding, will assist the Court, when deciding on a Financial Order, what the party's intentions were. These may change overtime, however, the Court does appear to give substantial weight to valid pre-nups when making their decision.
To find out more or discuss your individual requirements in further detail, our dedicated Family Law solicitors will be delighted to help. Contact us today on 01603 693500 or email us using the 'Make an enquiry' form. Appointments available at our Norwich, North Walsham, and Sheringham offices.
*This article is provided for general information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice or other professional advice.
If you'd like to receive our monthly email newsletter, legal updates and event invitations, sign-up to our email mailing list by clicking here