It is not unusual for a couple entering into marriage to want to protect their money by drawing up a pre-nuptial agreement before the wedding; a pre-nuptial agreement specifies how they have agreed to divide the finances if they separate at a later date.
As it stands, pre-nuptial agreements are not legally binding or enforceable in the UK. Until fairly recently, they were even considered contrary to public policy. However, a case in the Supreme Court in 2010 led to a fairly dramatic change in approach and the current position is that such agreements may be upheld, or at least taken into account, providing certain criteria are met; these criteria include the exchange of financial information and receipt of independent legal advice.
Some people just want a pre-nuptial agreement to be prepared and signed straightaway, to avoid ‘ruining the romance’ in the lead up to their wedding. The criteria cannot be avoided, however, if they want the document to be as ‘watertight’ as possible.
Overall, it is also important that the terms of a pre-nuptial agreement are broadly fair. A court will not uphold an agreement that they consider is unfair and/or would leave one party vulnerable financially. Following on from this, it is common to include provision for a review of the terms if the parties’ circumstances change, for example if children are born into the marriage.
Despite all these caveats, pre-nuptial agreements are growing in popularity in the UK. As such, our team of family lawyers at MacDonald Oates LLP are experienced in drafting and reviewing such agreements. If you would like advice on any family law matter, please contact us on either 01730 268211 or 01730 816711