As the result of a divorce case that had become particularly ugly, the UK Supreme Court decided that Prenuptial Agreements are legally binding in the event of a marriage break-up.
In that one ruling they changed the face of Family Law, and since then getting a prenup has been common practice for many couples getting married. It may not be the most romantic part of the relationship, but if you have a tidy fortune tucked away that you want to protect in the event of a relationship break-up, then a prenuptial agreement is a must-have these days.
But since the 2010 ruling, where do you stand with a prenup once you’re married? And are there instances when prenup agreements could be declared invalid after the event?
What is a Prenup?
Also known as ante-nuptial agreements or pre-registration agreements for civil partners, a Prenup is an agreement that states exactly how assets are to be divided up in the event of a break-up. This can be anything from agreeing who gets the house and who gets the dog and the CD collection, to protecting investments, property and financial fortunes. Prenup agreements are particularly important if you have a large financial nest egg, are the director or owner of a business or have a major investment portfolio.
Are Prenups Legally Binding?
As a result of the 2010 Supreme Court decision, prenup agreements are now regarded as pretty watertight, as long as they meet certain criteria. However, they are not, in fact ‘legally binding’, and a Prenup agreement can effectively be challenged if there are grounds, such as undue coercion to sign, a breach of the contract or unreasonable restrictions, for example.
What Could Invalidate a Prenup?
There are a number of situations where a prenup could end up as not worth the paper it’s written on. These include:
- Not actually writing anything down! ‘Verbal contracts’ do not count as prenuptial agreements – you have to have it in writing, it has to be signed by both parties and preferably witnessed by prenup solicitors or a third party.
- It needs to be completed before the wedding takes place. A post-nuptial agreement is a whole different kettle of fish, and legally is very shaky.
- If you feel you were pressurised into signing, or you were not given enough time to read or consider the prenup agreement.
- If false or incomplete information is included. It’s not illegal to fail to declare assets in a prenup, but it could make things very tricky when it comes to protecting them in a divorce.
What Happens if One Partner Dies?
If the worst happens and a partner dies then a prenup can be what is known as varied. This means that as long as due consideration is made for dependants such as children, the prenup may still be valid. This is covered by The Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975, and can be explained in detail by one of our experienced family law solicitors at Co-op Legal Services.
Are DIY Prenups Valid?
It can be tempting to simply download a ‘do it yourself prenup’ online. But if you want to be absolutely sure that your prenup agreement is valid then it’s strongly advised that you ask a prenup Solicitor to draw up the relevant documents. They can ensure that not only are both parties happy with the final agreement, but that it adequately takes into account any potential changes later on, such as having children or moving abroad, and which assets are to be included in the agreement.
Isn’t a Prenup a Breach of Human Rights?
Try arguing this one in Court and you won’t get far. As long as you haven’t been coerced or put under undue pressure to sign, then your human rights haven’t been affected in any way. After all, you decided of your own free will to sign on the dotted line!
Are Prenups Applicable for Civil Partnerships?
Yes. As long as both parties sign, a prenup can apply to a civil partnership or same-sex marriage in equal measure.
Isn’t It a Bit…Well, Clinical?
Admittedly, prenuptial agreements or a prenup for marriage purposes isn’t the most romantic thing in the world to have to think about when you’re planning your big day. But they have proved time and again to be a really good idea and to clarify the financial situation in the event of a separation and divorce. We all want to believe that our marriage or partnership will last forever, but in the cold light of day we’re still looking at record divorce rates in the UK. And with assets like homes and investment portfolios now being worth much more than in the past, it makes sense to ensure that both parties know exactly who will get what in the event of a break-up.
Okay, That’s Fair Enough. What Next?
If you’re planning to marry, arrange a civil partnership or same-sex marriage and want to make sure all the paperwork is in order, call us. At Co-op Legal Services, our prenup Solicitors have the experience and expertise to draw up a prenup for marriage arrangement that will give you and your partner the peace of mind you want. After all, why let anything spoil your big day, or your future together?
For initial legal advice about Pre-Nuptial, Post-Nuptial or Pre-Registration Agreements call our Family Solicitors on 01618558357 or contact us online and we will help you.
The family law team at Co-op Legal Services includes specialist Family Solicitors, Divorce Solicitors and Children Law Solicitors with Resolution Accreditation and Resolution accredited experts in child abduction, co-habitation, domestic abuse, property disputes, high net worth money matters and financial advocacy.