Law Issues

Is it necessary to enter into a prenuptial agreement?

For many couples this is a ‘hot issue’, often raising the questions of mutual trust and faith in the future together. Meanwhile, prenups serve a great insurance measure of protection for various family commitments and shared assets in case of divorce or separation.

A prenuptial agreement is a legal contract composed prior to one’s marriage, which states the way a couple’s existing assets will be divided in the event of separating. Assets covered by the document usually include the following: shared property, inheritance, debts, businesses and even children, all acquired individually or unitedly.

Reasons to sign a prenup

Firstly, a premarital agreement allows relatively peaceful settlement of a divorce resolution without court intervention. It is especially valued when partners possess big assets and wish to stay fair to each other. Furthermore, a prenup ensures that children from a previous marriage are entitled to get a guaranteed part of the assets. The same applies to inheritances and savings.

In case one of the partners is to pay off an outstanding debt, a prenup is a great protection against ‘unexpected’ liabilities for the other partner provided a ‘debt clause’ is included in the agreement.

In addition to financial issues that couples may face during their conflict escalation, there are various topics concerned with expectations towards each other in terms of communication and responsibilities, like career pursuit or child care. Yes, many people discuss it in advance.

Are prenups legally binding in the UK?

Not at all, you are not obliged to sign a prenuptial agreement as long as you find it useless or immoral.

But if you do have a prenup, the judge is most likely to consider the terms listed there when making a verdict. However, it doesn’t mean that all the prenuptial agreements will be fully enforceable. The legal case of Radmacher and Granatino became one of the most notorious divorce trials in which a prenuptial agreement played a vital role.

In general, the weight of the prenup depends on how fair the deal is, added by the actual ability of the weaker party to meet the requirements by the moment of financial settlement. The Court will refer to Section 25 of the 1973 Matrimonial Causes Act, according to which the judge is supposed to “have regard to all circumstances of the case”. A fair prenuptial agreement is the one meeting the Act requirements, given the parties entered the agreement freely and consciously.

A checklist to follow for a good prenuptial agreement

You are free to compose a prenuptial agreement on your own and notarize it when signing. By the way, signature timings are quite flexible. As long as you wish everything to be legally and financially correct, it is worth consulting a lawyer – modern online portals provide great databases storing all the information for you to find solicitors in any locations: e.g. Suffolk, Hampshire, Cornwall solicitors, etc.

There are certain factors to be considered when composing and entering a prenuptial agreement to ensure the agreement power:

  • In compliance with the UK law, a prenup must be compiled and written by a qualified solicitor.
  • Both parties are to hire separate solicitors and have a clear understanding of all the agreement items.
  • Solicitors must confirm that the prenup was entered without pressure.
  • There must be total disclosure of all assets and property by both parties.
  • Certain provisions for children are to be included in the agreement.
  • It is highly recommended to review the prenuptial agreement as soon as there are some circumstance changes (childbirth, unemployment, etc.), so that it continues to be fair in court.