What is a Pre nup? Do I need a Pre nup?
What is a Pre nup? Do I need a Pre nup?
Pre-Nuptial Agreements – Is romance dead?
Ceri Thomas – KBL Solicitors
The last of the Valentine’s day flowers have made their way to the recycling long agao and the thoughts of those who got engaged on Valentine’s day inevitably turn to planning their big day. The venue, the dress, flowers, the honeymoon. Even the most low-key wedding requires a great deal of planning and decision making.
If you attend a wedding fayre when planning your wedding the focus of the fayre is upon every detail of the big day. You will meet lots of different organisations seeking to sell you the must have detail for your wedding. Increasingly at such fayre’s you will also find leaflets, and maybe even a broker, encouraging you to consider wedding insurance. The majority of the population have insurance in some form or another; no-one wants to have to claim on their insurance but we also understand the importance of having a policy in place in the event of a financial loss, whether this is a car accident, being too ill to take your holiday or being burgled at home. Wedding insurance is primarily intended to help couples if they encounter a problem with their supplier, they are taken ill and can’t go ahead with the wedding or some other kind of emergency. From a practical perspective couples often see the benefit of such a policy particularly given that the average cost of a wedding is now £27,161.
What couples are less inclined to consider is what they want to happen if their marriage ends in divorce. It is not considered romantic; who wants to begin married live by agreeing what will happen if you divorce? It can be difficult to begin a conversation about how you want to approach the end of your marriage, particularly in relation to the way the finances will be dealt with. However, money should not be a taboo subject in a relationship. A lack of financial transparency or feelings of financially imbalance can spell the end of a marriage. As you begin married life together it is important that you can discuss such subjects in an open and fair way.
It is possible to draw up an agreement before your wedding, called a pre-nuptial agreement or pre-nup, to clearly set out how you will manage your separation if it happens. It is a form of insurance; if you can reach an agreement now whilst you love each other and want the best for the other person this will almost certainly be less emotionally and financially expensive than bitterly contested divorce and financial proceedings.
Pre-nups were once considered the forte of the super-rich. However, they are becoming increasingly common for the more moderately wealthy and those entering their second (or third) marriage. The advantage of a pre-nup is that it provides clarity for the future. It allows you to protect your business or inheritance, which has already been received or will be received in the future, and can be used to make provision for children from previous relationships.
There are some countries in the World where pre-nups are legally binding. In England and Wales they are not enforceable. However, as a result of decisions made in recent years in the English Court’s they are been given more weight and there is some pressure upon the Government to consider changing the law to give such agreements legal force.
If you are considering entering into a pre-nup you should ensure that you and your husband or wife to-be each seek independent legal advice in advance of your wedding.
There are steps that you can take to improve the likelihood that your pre-nup will be given more weight in the future and these include:-
• Both parties receiving independent legal advice, which includes preparation of a properly drafted pre-nup that deals with future children, how current and future assets will be dealt with and builds in provision for the agreement to be reviewed at timely intervals.
• Both parties receiving full financial disclosure of the other party’s financial circumstances.
• The agreement being signed at least 21 days before the wedding but not more than 12 months before the wedding.
• Neither party should be under any undue pressure to sign the agreement.
Ultimately if you decide to enter into a pre-nup you must do so with the warning that in the event of a divorce in the future there is no guarantee that the agreement will be followed. If a relationship does end in divorce then either party could seek to depart from the agreement. Even if neither party wish to seek an alternative arrangement any agreement will still need to be approved by the Court upon divorce. The court may refuse to approve an arrangement which is inherently unfair to one party, particularly if one party’s needs or the needs of the children are not met.
The cost of obtaining a properly drafted pre-nup with both parties benefitting from independent advice will vary but is unlikely to be a cheap option. However, according to the Money Advice Service the cost of a divorce could be up to £30,000 plus VAT if a case continues to a fully contested Final Hearing, though in my experience it could be more than this. A pre-nup does not give you a guaranteed outcome. However, it is likely to significantly narrow the issues which are in dispute in the event of a future divorce, thereby reducing the costs of the divorce.
At KBL Solicitors LLP our family law specialists have many years’ experience and advise in relation to all matters arising from a relationship, including forward planning prior to cohabitation or marriage such as pre-nups and cohabitation agreements, together with issues arising from relationship breakdown for married and unmarried couples and are well equipped to deal with complex financial issues, including resolving finances post-separation, Children Act cases and protection from domestic abuse.
You can be assured of confidential, professional and personal advice on all matters relating to you and your family.
Contact Solicitor, Ceri Thomas today for your free no obligation consultation on 01204 527777 or firstname.lastname@example.org.