The summer is here and its wedding season again. When you are busy preparing for your wedding to your happily ever after, thinking about what would happen if you separated is often the last thing on your mind. However, you might be coming into the marriage with assets that you would want to protect if the marriage didn’t last. That’s where a pre-nuptial agreement can play an important role in your wedding preparations. Raising the subject can be a tricky one but it’s better to be honest with each other before the big day rather than regret it later when the commitment has already been made and it’s too late.

What is a pre-nup?

A pre-nuptial agreement is a contract between a couple before they marry. It sets out what should happen to income and assets in the event of marriage breakdown and includes assets you have brought into the marriage and assets that you have grown together as a couple. 

There is a common misconception that only celebrities and millionaire’s need pre-nups. However, anyone can get a pre-nup and there are several reasons why you might consider signing one before marrying.

Why might I need one?

Once you are married, any assets owned by you may become matrimonial assets (assets of the marriage) which on divorce a court could share between you and your partner.

If the marriage were to end in divorce, both partners would have a claim on the assets. For example, if you entered a marriage with a property, or a large amount of savings, your partner could be entitled to those assets, even if they were in your sole name and you had them before the marriage if there weren’t enough assets to meet our needs such a home. 

A pre-nup allows partners to ring-fence certain assets to protect them in the event of divorce. These assets do not have to be of an extremely high value, or even in your possession at the time of signing the pre-nup. For example, you may wish to ring-fence a future inheritance.

Pre-nups are particularly useful for couples getting married for a second time and where a couple may want to protect assets they brought into the marriage for the benefit of their children from their first marriage. 

Here are a few reasons why you and your partner may wish to enter a pre-nup: –

  • To protect your pre-marriage assets (such as your home, business, pension plan, assets of sentimental value, etc)
  • To protect gifts and inheritance you receive
  • To ensure children from a prior marriage do not lose their intended inheritance to a new spouse
  • To establish the value of non-monetary contributions to a marriage, such as being a stay-at-home spouse, or making career sacrifices for the sake of the marriage

How binding is a pre-nup?

In divorce, the courts are not bound by law to enforce a pre-nup because a pre-nup cannot take priority over the Matrimonial Causes Act, which is the piece of legislation that applies to divorce. However, if the required contractual elements are there and a couple fully understood what they were doing when entering the pre-nup, the court is likely to give a lot of weight to the agreement in determining a financial settlement provided the agreement is fair. 

How can we help?

Whilst entering into a contractual agreement before your wedding may seem unromantic, it is important to remember that pre-nups are there to protect both parties in the unfortunate event of separation. At Townsends, we can assist you with the preparation of a bespoke prenuptial agreement that fits your circumstances. Please do not hesitate to contact us to book in for a no strings consultation at a reduced rate of £150 including VAT

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