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Pre-nuptial Agreements

Getting married or moving in with your partner is an exciting time and it might seem unromantic to think about what would happen if you later separate.

However, with around 2 in 5 marriages ending in divorce and the average relationship lasting less than 3 years, it is sensible to agree a plan with your partner for what will happen to your home, saving and other assets, and any children you have together if your relationships ends. Read our article about your rights to property after separation

Pre-nuptial and Post-nuptial agreements are on the rise, particularly amongst couples who may be marrying for the second time or where one party has family wealth which they wish to secure for the future.

Described in The Legal 500 as "brilliant", our family law team are consulted frequently by our clients - before or after marriage - seeking expert advice in regulating any financial claims they may have with their partner, in the event that they go on to separate in the future.

We provide expertise in preparing bespoke Pre-Nuptial Agreements for those who are marrying and Post-Nuptial Agreements for those already married. 

If you have money, property or business interests to protect (often from family inheritance or personal wealth) it is highly likely that your partner could lay claim to these if you separate without having a pre-nup. You might want to read our article on Pre- and Post-Nuptial Agreements and 'the Bank of Mum and Dad'.

The family courts in England are now regularly seeing and upholding the intentions behind properly drafted Nuptial Agreements so it is vital that expert legal advice is taken at the earliest possible time.

There are specific criteria that must be met to give your Agreement the best chance of being upheld, and the Harrowells team will ensure your pre-nup is drafted to protect you and your assets with as more surety as possible.

Contact our expert pre-nuptial agreements solicitors

Looking for clear, practical advice and support to make a pre-nuptial agreement or post-nuptial agreements?

Our reputation for offering clear, effective advice is growing and, together with independent recognition of our Family Law expertise by Legal 500, means we advise clients right across the country. It is very straightforward to arrange meetings by video or telephone, as you prefer, so that we can provide you with the information, advice and reassurance that your interests will be secured and protected. If you live locally, you also have the option to meet us at one of our officesCall us or email us for a confidential initial discussion so we can understand your situation and explain how we can help you. We can be flexible and schedule our initial meeting with you outside normal office hours if that better suits your circumstances.

Understanding the different types of agreements

There are three main types of agreement you can make to protect yourself from possible negative financial consequences, provide certainty for you and your children and avoid unnecessary conflict and expense associated with divorce in the event of your relationship ending.

To ensure your agreement is as binding as possible, there are strict criteria to be following including both parties entering into the agreement willingly, taking independent legal advice and making a full disclosure of all their assets and any liabilities, such as mortgages and other debts. 

Pre-nuptial agreements

Must be entered into before getting married, the further in advance of the wedding the better but at least three weeks before your wedding day.

Post-nuptial agreements

Can be entered into at any point after you get married either on their own or they may act to update or reconfirm the terms of an earlier pre-nup.

Cohabitation agreements

Or ‘living together’ agreements are used where you are living with your partner without getting married.  They are commonly used when the house in which you will live is only owned by one person or where one of you has made or will make a greater financial contribution than the other.

Our pre-nuptial agreements solicitors’ fees

We will discuss the requirements of your agreement and discuss the fees you can expect in advance.  We have a range of options for payment which will be discussed with you in advance of any work being undertaken to ensure the cost will be affordable to you.

Learn more about our Family Law Fees.

Pre-nuptial agreements explained

What happens if you don't get a pre-nup?

The starting point for division of assets on divorce is that the combined marital assets are divided equally during divorce and that assumption grows in strength, the longer you are married and the more your assets are mingled.  Without a pre-nup you risk the possibility of ending up with a financial settlement that you consider unfair.

Having a pre-nuptial agreement can also make the process of getting divorced much simpler and less stressful, as much will already have been agreed.  You are less likely to need to go to court to resolve the financial claims you have against each other.

Should I sign a pre-nup?

If you have been asked to sign a pre-nuptial agreement by your partner, it is essential to have independent legal advice from a family lawyer with specialist expertise in these types of agreements first as the implications could be incredibly serious.

Are pre-nuptial agreements legally binding?

They are not automatically legally binding, but are likely to be upheld by the family court if they meet the necessary criteria and meet the financial needs of both parties.

Is a pre-nup still valid if you have children?

The agreement should account for foreseeable future changes and make provision for children if this is something you and your partner are planning. If it does not, and the terms of the order don’t meet the needs of the partner and children then the terms may be varied by the family court.

What should be included in a pre-nuptial agreement?

Your assets should be identified as ‘separate’ or ‘matrimonial’ property and arrangements should be made for what should happen to both upon divorce. Your prenup should also be future proof and make provision for children, retirement.

You and your spouse may also want to include a ‘sunset clause’ if your marriage goes the distance and you want the agreement to expire.

Is it too late to get a pre-nup after marriage?

Instead, you and your spouse can enter into a post-nuptial agreement which offers the same protections.

A post-nuptial agreement may be worth considering if your circumstances have changed significantly since you got married e.g. you have had children, bought a home, received a substantial inheritance or started a business.

What are the rights of a common law spouse?

The rights of a common law marriage are a myth. Unmarried couples have no automatic legal rights with regard to each other’s property, savings or other assets and no automatic right to financial support, other than for child maintenance where appropriate.

This means if you separate from your unmarried partner, you may have no right to a financial settlement or any kind of personal maintenance, unless you have a cohabitation agreement in place that makes provision for this.

If you live in a property that is in your ex-partner’s name, you may also have no right to stay there after you have separated.

For this reason, we strongly recommend that anyone living with their partner creates a cohabitation agreement, especially if you are living in a property that is in one person's name, one of you is financially dependent on the other and/or you have children together.

Pre-nuptial agreements insights from Harrowells

Contact our expert pre-nuptial agreements solicitors

Looking for clear, practical advice and support to make a pre-nuptial agreement or post-nuptial agreements?

We advise clients on a nationwide basis and we are experienced in offering effective advice, reassurance and regular updates by video and telephone. If you live locally, you also have the option to meet us at one of our offices. You decide the best method of communication and we will tailor to suit. We have a reputation for offering practical, jargon-free advice that ensures you know your rights and that your interests are protected. Call us or email us for a confidential initial discussion so we can understand your situation and explain how we can help you.