Pre-nuptial and post-nuptial agreements (prenups and postnups) allow you to set out in advance what you want to happen financially if your marriage ends in divorce. If properly drafted they will be binding.
Why have a prenup or postnup?
The way the law of England & Wales deals with finances on divorce is highly discretionary and unpredictable . It's practically impossible to say with any certainty what a judge or arbitrator might decide if you and your ex can't reach your own agreement. Often the best family lawyers can do is say what the broad parameters of a settlement might be.
Nuptial (or marital) agreements might not seem very romantic but they enable you to avoid this legal lottery. The cost of drawing them up can be seen as an investment when you consider the substantial legal fees you'll save from knowing where you stand if you get divorced.
Other advantages include:
- Identifying and protecting business or trust interests, inherited/gifted wealth or other assets owned before your marriage so that they can be excluded from any split.
- In an international marriage, agreeing where the divorce and financial proceedings take place in situations where there's a choice.
- Providing reassurance if you're living together and wanting to get married, but are worried about the financial implications if there's a divorce later.
- For postnups, providing certainty if you've been separated but are giving the marriage another go.
Our national family law team has extensive experience of advising on and drafting prenups and postnups including in the most complex and high value cases. Following a landmark case called Radmacher v Granatino in 2010 the law is now clear. If marital agreements are entered into freely, with a proper understanding of their consequences and, crucially, are not obviously unfair to one of the couple, they will be upheld if challenged in court.
Whether we're advising the husband or wife to be who is looking to protect their assets, or the financially weaker party, we understand how to apply these principles to get the right outcome. Recent examples of agreements we've been involved in are:
- A prenup for a Premiership footballer. He and his partner had lived together for a number of years and had decided to get married at short notice.
- A prenup for an entrepreneur whose fiancée was from one EU country and they were going to live in another. We worked closely with family lawyers from those two other jurisdictions to cover these international factors.
- A postnup for the beneficiary of a substantial farming trust that she and the family wanted to pass on to future generations.