A prenuptial agreement is a contract that partners make before they get married. It settles in advance a division of property in case the marriage ends in divorce.
It is important to note that prenuptial agreements are not legally binding in the United Kingdom as they are in the United States.
However, since the case of Radmacher vs. Granatino in October of 2010, they are now considered binding unless the court feels they are unfair to either partner or the children of the marriage. Courts will still overrule a prenup if they feel it is warranted.
Many couples choose to use a prenuptial agreement for the following reasons:
They have children from a previous relationship and they want to be sure in the case of a divorce the children are taken care of financially.
One or both of the marriage partners has already amassed considerable financial assets.
One of the partners already owns a home they want to protect.
One of the partners has received a large inheritance of money that they want to remain with their side of the family.
A business is owned by one of the marriage partners. If a divorce occurs and the business assets are split in half it usually means the end of the company. A prenup protects against this possibility.
If the marriage partners fear that a long, stressful battle over assets will occur if the marriage breaks up and want to try and avoid that possibility.
Once a marriage takes place all assets are considered consolidated into one pot. Without a prenuptial agreement assets will usually be split 50/50 between the marriage partners on the event of a divorce.
No one enters into a marriage planning to divorce. But it is a good idea to consider what will happen if the marriage does eventually dissolve.
When creating a prenuptial agreement it is important to seek legal counsel. A solcitor can help you with the legal paperwork that is necessary.
The U.K. courts will generally follow the guidelines of the prenuptial agreement if they feel it is far to all parties. If they feel the children of the current marriage or a spouse is being dealt with unfairly it may be overturned.
The courts are more apt to follow the terms of the prenuptial agreement if the following are true:
Both parties sought legal advice before signing the prenup.
All assets were disclosed and nothing was hidden.
The prenup was signed more than 21 days in advance of the marriage.
Neither marriage partner was under duress or mentally incapacitated at the time of signing.
If children were born to the couple after the prenup, the agreement should be amended. Otherwise, the courts may overturn the prenup to protect the interest of the children.
Before entering a prenup each party should consider the long-term ramifications of the agreement. For instance, if one of the partners gives up a career to raise children or if the marriage lasts a long time, the terms may no longer seem fair.
When creating a prenuptial agreement it is in the best interest of both parties to seek legal counsel.