All About Pre-nuptial and Post-nuptial Agreements

No one wants to believe that their marriage will not last forever. However, a third of marriages end and financial negotiations in divorce proceedings can be devastating emotionally for both adults and children if they turn nasty. A pre-nuptial or post-nuptial agreement allows couples to negotiate how they will split their finances before relations sour; therefore, if the marriage does fall apart, there is a pre-agreed document to refer to when splitting marital assets.

What is the difference between a pre-nuptial and a post-nuptial agreement?

A pre-nuptial agreement is signed before a couple weds.  A post-nuptial agreement is negotiated and signed after a couple has married.  This may be because one party has come into an inheritance, or the relationship is under significant strain and each party wants to separate their finances in case they do divorce.

Are pre-nuptial and post-nuptial agreements enforceable?

Pre-nuptial agreements are not formally binding in England and Wales.  However, since the case of Radmacher v Granatino decided in 2010, prenuptial agreements are now given significant weight unless considered to be unfair.  To be upheld by the Court, the agreement must have been entered into freely by both parties who had full appreciation of the consequences.

Why should I have a pre-nuptial agreement?

Pre-nuptial agreements are entered into for many reasons, including:

  • one party is bringing significantly more financial assets into the marriage
  • one or both of the parties have children from a previous marriage and want to protect their individual wealth so they can leave it to them
  • significant business assets are involved

Do I need to seek independent legal advice?

If you are asked to sign a pre-nuptial or post-nuptial agreement, it is imperative that you seek independent legal advice.  This is to ensure that you fully understand the consequences of entering into such an agreement, not only for you, but for any future children you and your spouse may have.

Can I be forced to sign a pre-nup?

No, and pre-nuptial agreements signed under coercion will be deemed invalid.

If you are considering a pre-nuptial or post-nuptial agreement, an experienced family solicitor will help you draft a document tailored to your needs.  They will also advise you on the implications of signing to ensure you understand the consequences fully.

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