Do you need a pre-nuptial agreement?

With wedding season around the corner, we are starting to receive more enquiries from couples who are considering entering a pre-nuptial agreement. Although weddings are a joyful occasion, there is a clear conflict between two people entering into the long-term commitment of marriage and agreeing the arrangements in the event the relationship breaks down.

What is a pre-nuptial agreement?
As the name suggests, pre-nuptial agreements are agreed between a couple before they enter into a legally binding marriage. In a pre-nuptial agreement, a couple will set out what should happen to their finances should their marriage come to an end. A pre-nuptial agreement is no longer just for the rich and famous; a common reason for creating a pre-nuptial agreement is to protect inherited wealth or pre-owned assets brought into the marriage.

Do I really need one if it is not legally enforceable?
With the escalating costs involved in planning a wedding, some may be put off by the additional expense and time of negotiating a pre-nuptial agreement. The aim of the pre-nuptial agreement is to provide more certainty and security over future financial arrangements in the event of a marriage breakdown, and to avoid couples spending vast sums of money to determine their respective share of the matrimonial pot.

While there is still some uncertainty about whether the terms of the pre-nuptial agreement will be enforced by a court, as the courts are still able to make financial orders. They are becoming increasingly popular and following the leading case in this area, they should be recognised by the courts providing the agreement was a) freely entered into by each party (without pressure or undue influence); b) a full appreciation of its implications, and they have had full legal advice; and c) the agreement is fair and meets the needs of both parties.

What are some top tips for anyone contemplating a pre-nuptial agreement?
1. Plan ahead. It is recommended to allow at least 28 days before the wedding to sign a pre-nuptial agreement, as the greater the time before the wedding the agreement is signed, the less pressure both parties feel when signing the document.

2. Get legal advice. It is a requirement that both parties receive independent legal advice from a specialist family lawyer to ensure that the agreement is fair and meets both parties’ needs.
If you would like to discuss a pre-nuptial agreement, please contact Georgina Suman on 020 8767 8336 or georginasuman@alen-buckley.co.uk.