One of the many consequences of the lockdown over the last 12 months has been that couples planning to marry in 2020 or 2021 have had to delay their weddings.
This however has provided them with an opportunity to further reflect on how they may wish to manage their finances as a married couple, and to put further arrangements in place such as a pre nuptial agreement. Here at Wollens we have noticed an increase in clients seeking advice about pre nuptial agreements during this time.
What is a Prenuptial Agreement and what does it do?
As the name implies, a prenuptial agreement signed by a couple prior to the marriage taking place. The effect of the prenuptial agreement is to record how the couple agree that their property, other capital, pensions and income would be shared between them if the marriage were to later break down and end in divorce. This provides the couple with a much greater degree of certainty than they would otherwise have as they take the leap into married life, and allows for certain assets to be protected from claims by the other spouse in the event of divorce.
When is a Prenuptial Agreement appropriate?
Prenuptial agreements are particularly useful for couples marrying later in life, perhaps as a second marriage, where one of them already has significant assets in their own name, perhaps having bought their own properties or built up pension funds before meeting their new partner. In these circumstances a prenuptial agreement can ensure that those assets built up in the years before the marriage are not “lost” to the other spouse in the event of a divorce.
Another situation where prenuptial agreements may be particularly appropriate is where one of the partners has inherited significant assets prior to the marriage, or anticipates that they will inherit significant assets at some point in the future. Again a prenuptial agreement can protect those inherited assets, to ensure that these are not then subject to a claim from the other spouse if the marriage ends in divorce.
Is there a “deadline” or “cut off date” for signing the Prenuptial Agreement before the marriage?
Although there is currently no deadline under the law of England and Wales, and the prenuptial agreement can in theory be signed the day before the wedding, we always recommend that the prenuptial agreement is signed by both partners no later than 28 days before the wedding, in line with Law Commission guidance. If you are considering a prenuptial agreement, you should ideally seek legal advice at least six months before the marriage , to allow time for the prenuptial agreement to be properly prepared and fully considered by you and your partner before it is ready for signing.
Do I need legal advice before entering a prenuptial agreement?
Yes! If you are considering a prenuptial agreement you and your future spouse should discuss this well before your marriage and then each seek independent legal advice. A prenuptial agreement can have a significant effect on outcomes in a future divorce, and one or both spouses may be giving up the right to significant future claims. In order to ensure that the prenuptial agreement is effective, both spouses need to be able to confirm that they have had legal advice, and fully understand in advance the implications of what they are signing up to.
Wollens have specialist family lawyers with experience in advising and preparing prenuptial agreements. Please contact any of our family team who will be pleased to discuss your needs.
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