A pre-nuptial agreement or ‘pre-nup‘ is a bespoke legal document which sets out how parties agree their finances should be dealt with in the event of a future divorce, which often includes an element of preserving or ring-fencing assets.
Pre-nuptial agreements are not currently binding in England and Wales, but if completed appropriately with specialist advice, they can be considered to hold significant weight when determining the outcome of financial matters between separating parties.
Divorce is a fact of life for many people, and those marrying tend to be increasingly aware of the risk of divorce, however much they wish to avoid it. For those who would like increased certainty as to what will happen to their assets in the future, particularly those who have acquired their own assets at the time of marriage, a pre-nuptial agreement is an attractive option.
A key factor in determining whether a pre-nuptial agreement might be followed by a court is to ensure that the agreement is concluded in good time prior to the marriage. Taking steps to consult a lawyer five to six months in advance of the intended wedding date is important to give sufficient time to complete the process.
Whilst the preservation or division of assets may be a concern for those entering a first-time marriage, demand for pre-nuptial agreements is more pronounced among those who are seeking to remarry. With remarriages, parties often have considerations beyond their future spouse, such as inheritances already received, or children from previous relationships.
Pre-nuptial agreements can save parties considerable legal fees in the event of a future dispute and the cost of not entering one can be significant. Whilst imperfect, pre-nuptial agreements are the only tool currently available to parties to pre-emptively seek to ring-fence or protect assets from being shared upon divorce.
About Joanne McDonald
Joanne joined the Family law team at Furley Page as an Associate in October 2021. Joanne is a member of Resolution for Family Law and adheres to a Code of Practice promoting a constructive approach to the resolution of family matters.
Joanne has always had a passion for family law and demonstrates this through her commitment to clients. She understands that the breakdown of a relationship can be distressing and strives to ensure that clients feel supported through the process. As well as relationship breakdown, Joanne advises clients prior to marriage in respect of nuptial agreements and clients who are making the decision to cohabit with a partner and want to ensure clarity of future arrangements.