What Does A Prenuptial Agreement Do?

10 September 2019

A Prenuptial Agreement is a legal document made before marriage, which sets out what should happen to the couple's assets in the event of a divorce. We explain how they're used and how to put one in place.

What is a Prenuptial Agreement?

A Prenuptial Agreement, or Prenup, is a written agreement made between two partners who intend to get married. The agreement must be signed by both partners before their wedding date in order to be binding.

The scope of a Prenup is to set out the ownership of all the assets and liabilities being brought into the marriage and what will happen to these in the event of a divorce.

Are Prenups Legally Binding in the UK?

Prenups can be legally binding, but this is at the discretion of the Court. The Court will take into account any clauses contained within the Prenup as well as whether it is in the best interests of any children that are involved and that it's not unfair on either party.

The first time a UK Court upheld a Prenuptial Agreement was in the ground-breaking case of Radmacher v Grantino. This concerned the marriage of German heiress Katrin Radmacher and French investment banker Nicolas Grantino. Prior to their marriage in 1998, the couple signed a Prenuptial Agreement intended to protect Radmacher's £106m fortune from a potential separation from Grantino. In a landmark ruling, the Court ruled in Radmacher's favour, upholding the terms of the Prenup.

In order for a Prenup to be upheld by the Court, the correct process must be followed and both parties must have obtained independent legal advice from a Family Law Solicitor.

Carrying out the following steps will help your Prenup to be upheld by the Court:

  • Your Prenup is drafted by a qualified Solicitor
  • Both partners seek independent advice from separate Solicitors to avoid any conflicts of interest
  • Both solicitors confirm that the Prenuptial Agreement was entered into freely and voluntarily and that the parties fully understand its contents
  • All assets are fully disclosed by the parties to the agreement
  • The Prenup is signed at least 21 days before the wedding date

For legal advice about a Pre-Nuptial or Post-Nuptial Agreement call our Family Law Solicitors on 0330 606 9626 or contact us and we will help you.

What Should a Prenup Contain?

The majority of Prenuptial Agreements contain a list of each of the partners' assets, which requires full disclosure from both sides. The agreement will outline the way all assets (including money, property, inheritance and investments acquired both before and during the marriage) are to be dealt with should the marriage end.

In cases involving children, a Prenup may also set out financial arrangements for them after the divorce. These should be handled with additional care as the Courts consider any arrangements for children with particular attention, to ensure they are in the children's best interest.

When Should You Get a Prenup?

Prenups can provide certainty for a couple and protection to pre-marriage assets, inheritance and commitments, such as children from a previous marriage. Prenuptial Agreements are particularly useful when one partner has significantly more assets than the other, or the overall value of their assets is much higher than their partner's.

The intention of the Prenup is to provide clarity around the arrangements in the event of a breakdown of the marriage and to prevent the partners from financial disputes and uncertainty regarding their assets and liabilities.

As the Prenup needs to be signed at least 21 days before the wedding, it's a good idea to allow plenty of time to get this document drafted and finalised. We would always recommend that, if possible, you begin the process of putting a Prenuptial Agreement in place a few months before your wedding date.

What Happens if a Marriage Ends in Divorce without a Prenup?

In the absence of a Prenup, every asset brought into the marriage as well as those acquired after will be technically added to the same financial pot. The Court's approach is that the couple's respective roles in the marriage are of equal value. Therefore, without a Prenup, the starting point for the division of assets will generally be a 50/50 split.

Whilst this may seem like a fair distribution, there are often instances in which this may feel unjust to a partner whose contribution to the marriage throughout the years was significantly higher.

How Much Does a Prenup Cost and How Can We Help?

At Co-op Legal Services, we can provide you with a Prenuptial Agreements for a fixed fee of £750 +VAT.

Our Family Law Solicitors can explain the process clearly to you, so that you completely understand what's involved. We'll then request all the relevant information from you and prepare the Prenuptial Agreement on your behalf. We'll also provide comprehensive guidance on how to complete the agreement and get it witnessed.

Once finalised, you and your partner will each receive a copy of the Prenuptial Agreement.

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