In my role as a family lawyer, I am often asked by clients about prenuptial agreements. The idea of a nuptial agreement regularly provokes a range of emotive responses.
Those who are not open to the idea start by questioning whether they are legally binding and often suggest discomfort about an agreement that contemplates the marriage failing.
On the other hand, there are those who are more comfortable with the concept, asking about what types of people enter into such agreements and what is involved in terms of time and cost.
I help by explaining the following:
1. If the agreement is fair, if certain conditions are met and if you sign a nuptial agreement, then you should expect the court to hold you to it;
2. A fair agreement arrived at with the benefit of sound legal advice can provide peace of mind and guard against expensive and unpredictable proceedings. However it is always the intention that the agreement will not be needed and the marriage will succeed. The agreement should be put in place in much the same way as an insurance policy is taken out to cover unforeseen circumstances;
3. Anyone with inherited wealth, pre-acquired assets or an established asset base should consider a nuptial agreement. The cost of preparing an agreement is minimal compared to the costs of proceedings; and
4. A nuptial agreement can be entered into before the marriage (prenuptial) and even after the marriage (postnuptial).
During both 2015 and continuing into 2016 I have seen a marked increase in couples seeking nuptial agreements and I was delighted when my recent work in this area was publicly commended by a leading London Family QC.
The ‘wedding season’ is almost upon us, with research suggesting the average wedding now costs in excess of £20,000.
A recent survey of 1,000 men and women in the UK by OnePoll, the market research agency, found that 10% regretted not signing a prenuptial agreement. Notwithstanding their increase in popularity, due to the benefits and enforceability of these agreements becoming better understood, I suspect that this percentage will increase until the preconception that they are for the rich and famous disappears.
About the Author
Melanie Pilmer advises in relation to a full range of family matters including divorce and associated financial matters, cohabitation disputes, children matters and Pre-Nuptial Agreements.
She is a collaboratively trained lawyer and member of Resolution – First for Family Law.
She has significant experience in relation to resolving complex financial disputes often involving business assets and a considerable amount of my practice consists of negotiating and preparing Nuptial Agreements.