Prenuptial agreement

Marry knowing that it is for love and not money. This prenuptial agreement (also known as a pre-marital agreement) helps you to sort out your affairs, plan how you will divide your current and future wealth between you, and tie up loose ends, if you decide to divorce or separate in the future. It will help you control your ownership of important assets such as your house, sentimental possessions and your business.

Suitable for use in: England & Wales and Scotland
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About this prenuptial agreement

A prenuptial agreement sets out how assets and liabilities will be divided if you separate permanently or if your marriage ends.

Making a plan in advance should help you avoid expensive divorce settlements, help you keep items of sentimental value such as family heirlooms or property, and help you control who inherits your wealth.

Many people consider planning for break-up unromantic shortly before a wedding or civil partnership. However, preparing a prenup emphasises that the reason for marriage is love and not money, and can give both people confidence about what will happen should the marriage fail.

Why use this prenuptial agreement

  • provides security during and after marriage to both people
  • avoids future disputes over how assets should be split and what each person contributed
  • helps speed up the divorce process and saves divorce costs
  • helps ensure that items with sentimental value remain with the person to whom they matter most
  • helps ensure that the people you choose (such as children from an earlier relationship) inherit your wealth
  • prevents your wealth from being given away shortly before break-up
  • helps protect business assets from being split and sold
  • makes a separation less emotionally stressful by removing the need to negotiate over as many things

Is a prenuptial agreement legally binding?

Prenuptial agreements are not legally binding. However, a bill has been placed before Parliament “Matrimonial Property, Needs and Agreements”. The bill contains provisions for what is commonly known as a pre-nuptial agreement.

The current position is that a prenuptial agreement will, in normal circumstances be taken into consideration by a UK court provided that:

  • both people considered and understood the implications of entering into the agreement
  • the agreement was not entered into under duress
  • both people were honest about their wealth at the time of signing
  • the agreement is fair
  • the agreement was signed at least 28 days before the date of the marriage or civil partnership

We believe it is likely that the new law will:

  • set down parameters subject to which a judge will be encouraged to make an order in the terms of the pre-nup agreement;
  • not compel a judge to comply with a pre-nup unless he is satisfied that the parties were truly happy with it when it was made and that it is still fair at the date they separate;
  • recommend that a pre-nup is “authenticated” in some way by the presence of a solicitor. However, we cannot see that this will be essential, principally because the English legal system demands that a solicitor never advises more than one party to a dispute.
  • not affect arrangements for children. These will always be in the full discretion of the judge.

It follows that your pre-nup is unlikely ever to be a fixed contract document but will always be subject to the discretion of a judge to some extent.

It will always be the case that a well written, sensible, prenuptial agreement is highly likely to influence the judge's decision as to what the final division should be.

Alternative documents

We also stock a simpler version of this document that has been written for couples who are likely each to be financially independent before the marriage or partnership and for whom the concern is about ensuring that wealth and assets remain in the possession of whichever one brought them in, should the marriage fail.

We expect that this alternative document will be more suitable for older couples who have already accumulated wealth, and who perhaps are marrying for a second time.

See Prenuptial agreement: protection of property.

Agreement contents

The Net Lawman pre-marital agreements have been written to help you to comply with the suggested legal requirements.

This agreement covers a very wide range of possible outcomes and also deals with many matters to be agreed during your marriage. This coverage is not legally binding but enables you to define your intentions over broad areas.

There is extensive coverage of property, possessions, investments.

Children arrangements are covered only broadly and briefly, because a judge will make an order based on what he sees at the time of separation.

This agreement covers the following:

  • the parties' personal details
  • relevant dates and application of principles likely to be required by law
  • ownership of the home now
  • separate ownership of property and possessions
  • many alternative arrangements for ownership of assets
  • joint bank account
  • sharing living expenses
  • children arrangements and after separation
  • property of each party remains his own
  • dealing with family home
  • children arrangements
  • financial support of children
  • financial maintenance of one of you by the other
  • prevention of one person reducing joint wealth before separation by giving away assets
  • dealing with family company and / or jointly owned business
  • capital calculation and transfer
  • promise of confidentiality
  • if one of you should die
  • other legal provisions to protect your interests
  • final statement of understanding of legal requirements

This document was written by a solicitor for Net Lawman. It complies with current English law.

UK-FAMwed01 - Prenuptial agreement (Suitable for use in: England & Wales and Scotland)

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