Family lawyer Karen Weiner explains why a pre nuptial agreement should be an essential part of wedding planning.
The last traces of Christmas have gone and with it Divorce Day, the busiest day of the year for divorces. Romance is in the air and the shops are now filled with hearts and flowers for Valentine’s Day. As love fills the air thoughts turn to weddings and proposals. Vows, venues, music, food, and honeymoons are amongst the items on the must do list as wedding plans get into full swing.
What is often not included in those plans however is a pre nuptial agreement. But should it? Should it be an essential item on the list along with the wedding dress and cake. Couples get married later these days. They may already have accumulated wealth or own a property or have an inheritance. Or it could be a second marriage where one or both parties are wealthy in their own right. It is considered unromantic to raise this issue at a time of hope when plans for a long and happy future together are being made. We think nothing of making a will to protect our assets when we die and insurance against unexpected events such as long term illness or redundancy. Why wouldn’t we want to protect those same assets when entering a marriage?
If the marriage fails it could be one way of ensuring that there is no expensive divorce. An insurance policy if you like against legal fees.
Pre nuptial agreements are still not automatically binding in England and Wales. For the best chance of being upheld by the court on a divorce it must be fair both at the time it was entered into and at the time of the divorce. It should therefore be reviewed regularly throughout the marriage and on certain events occurring such as a child being born or on receipt of an inheritance. Both parties must have fully disclosed their financial position before the agreement is entered into and independent legal advice taken. It should also be signed as far as possible in advance of the wedding.
Can it bind the family court? No? But it is one of the factors the court will take in account on divorce and the court will decide what weight to attach to it. Is it worth the cost? In my view –yes. It is better to have it than not. Unromantic maybe but as we know not all marriages are a bed of roses.
If you would like to discuss how you may be able to protect your assets in the event of a divorce for an informal chat or to book an initial consultation email me Karen.weiner@betteridges .com or call me on 0333 12 12345.