As wedding season approaches, we thought it would be a good idea to shine a spotlight on prenuptial agreements. They can often be a controversial subject, as they need to be discussed just at the time when two people are planning on committing to each other for the rest of their lives. That’s why couples often shy away from entering into prenuptial agreements, because they don’t want to upset each other at such an important time.
What is a prenuptial agreement (prenup)?
A prenuptial agreement, also known as a prenup, is a written contract agreed by a couple before they enter into marriage or civil partnership. The contract outlines the owners of assets going into the marriage, and an agreement on how those assets will be distributed should the marriage come to an end. The Law Society reported in August 2022, that they are becoming more popular than ever before.
Why should I consider a prenuptial agreement (prenup)?
The most common scenarios for people taking out prenup’s include
- Second marriages where one person is significantly wealthier than the other
- Second marriages where couples have pre-acquired assets such as a house or pension, that they want to protect
- To protect childrens interests (usually property)
- To protect family wealth that has been inherited or will be inherited in the future, sometimes the parents will insist that their child has a prenup in place
- To protect business assets
What are the biggest barriers to prenuptial agreements?
As family solicitors, we hear many of the barriers or obstacles to putting a prenup in place. These include:
- The fear of upsetting the other partner, and show a lack of confidence in the relationship
- The perceived cost to prepare the prenup
- The complexity of having to disclose information about assets
- The need to consider the relationship breaking down in the future
- Concern that the agreement might not be fair over time, that it does not account for life events, that circumstances change and could be worse off
- The perception that prenups are only for the very wealthy
- Concern over whether it will be held up if challenged in court.
What are the benefits of a prenup?
In the past prenup’s were often seen as a thing for celebrities or the super-rich, but they are now more mainstream and should be a consideration for all couples. They can be particularly beneficial in the following situations:
- Where there are children from a previous marriage
- Where there is an imbalance of wealth between the couple
- Where there is a family inheritance for one of the people involved.
We have seen cases where a marriage has broken down and there would have definitely been a benefit to having a prenup, when one spouse brought a lot more of the assets into the marriage.
Can you put a prenuptial agreement in place after you get married?
Yes, only it is called a postnuptial agreement or postnup. They are very similar in content the only difference being the timing in which they are put in place (pre or post wedding).
Any advice for couples considering a prenup?
If you are considering a prenup then discuss it in plenty of time before the wedding, to avoid any last-minute disagreements. It will need to be signed by both parties 28 days before the wedding, we would recommend getting the content in place 6 months before the wedding as there are some arrangements around pensions and property that could take a few months to finalise.
If you’re considering a prenup and would like to speak to an experienced solicitor about it please get in touch.