Prenuptial Agreements

Overview

Now that couples are waiting longer to marry and second marriages are on the rise, people have accumulated more wealth of their own than was the case 30 years ago. Then, most couples started out with hand-me-down furniture and a second-hand car.

We admit that prenups are incredibly unromantic and almost impossible to even contemplate when you are in the heady and wonderful relationship stage. But, handled sensitively and fairly, they can save much heartache for the future. They are particularly useful (in fact essential) for second-time around marriages with children from the first marriage.

Are They Legally Binding?

Although not legally binding by statute, recent cases have proved that a Court is likely to take a prenuptial agreement into account when deciding how assets between a husband and wife or civil partners should be divided up. Peers gave their backing to a Bill making pre and post nuptial agreements binding and limiting spousal maintenance. The Divorce (Financial Provisions) Bill, which is now receiving its second reading in the House of Lords. If this Bill is passed all pre and post nuptial agreements will have the force of statutory law as well as common law.

It is important that any agreement has been freely entered into by the parties and they understand the full implications of what they are doing. There are exceptions though, for example, where one party is under excessive pressure or can be dependent on issues such as the age or maturity of those involved.

It is also important that any prenuptial agreement should be signed at least 21 days prior to the date of marriage. Any Agreements signed immediately before the marriage day could be open to scrutiny by the Court.

It is also important that there is full and frank disclosure of assets and liabilities and that schedules are annexed to the Agreement.

Each party should take independent legal advice on the merits of a prenuptial agreement. Each parties’ legal advisor should also sign the Agreement and, by doing so, there is less likelihood that it will be challenged in Court at a later date.

How Can We Help?

Beck Solicitors can advise you of your rights and what to expect when entering into a prenuptial agreement – making sure it is fair and right for you. Following discussions and once all parties have reached an agreement we will then prepare the prenuptial document containing all the details you have agreed.

What Could be Covered in a Prenuptial Agreement?

Each prenuptial agreement is designed to fit your personal circumstances and may include:-

  • How each of you will contribute to rent, mortgage or household bills until you are able to vacate or sell your home, if this is what you have agreed.
  • How you will deal with any joint bank accounts or debts.
  • How you will deal with any property or the sale proceeds of a property after paying off any mortgage or sale costs.
  • What will happen to any items you have bought together including cars and furniture.
  • Maintenance for either of you or any children.

What We Will Do

We will ask you to provide all the information we need and prepare the agreement and advise you on how to complete it and get it witnessed. You and your partner will then receive an original copy.

Cohabitation Agreements

You may be surprised to know that couples who cohabit do not have the same legal rights as married couples. If you are planning to cohabit, you should both give consideration to how you are going to manage your finances within the relationship. This is vitally important when considering property and the house that you intend to live in.

Even if one party has not made any financial contribution towards the property by paying some of the deposit or the mortgage, there are complex laws relating to Trusts which mean that, even if no financial contribution has been made, that party can still gain a beneficial (financial) interest in the house.

If this is not your intention, you need to record this in a legally binding cohabitation agreement.