Pre Nuptial Agreements
It may not seem the most romantic of engagement presents but ever increasing numbers of engaged couples are deciding to enter into pre nuptial agreements – particularly where they are bringing very different levels of financial assets to the marriage and feel that it is fair that if things don’t work out this should be recognised in any subsequent break up.
Whilst these agreements have been around for some time there has been reluctance by many judges to enforce them. However a recent decision by the Supreme Court has made it clear that in many cases they are a reasonable and enforceable method of protecting a spouse’s assets.
An effective pre nuptial agreement will need to have been entered in to voluntarily with both parties fully understanding its implications.
To give a pre nuptial agreement the best chance of being enforced it is important that:
1. The agreement is signed at least 21 days before the marriage or civil partnership to reduce the risk of any suggestion of unfair pressure,
2. There is full financial disclosure so that both parties know the assets that are available,
3. Both parties have independent legal advice, and
4. The terms must be a fair attempt to meet the needs of the parties.
Whilst even if these rules are followed there will be occasions where the court will refuse to enforce, particularly if there have been significant or unforeseen changes to the circumstances of the parties such as the arrival of children, the challenge will now be to the spouse trying to argue that the agreement was unfair or unreasonable.
Our family law team are experienced in drafting pre-nuptial agreements and reviewing agreements drafted by other lawyers.