Should I Get a Prenup? Protect Yourself if Your Marriage Breaks Down

Are you looking to get married or enter into a civil partnership and have asked yourself ‘should I get a prenup?’ A prenup can help you and your partner make a formal arrangement before marriage to ensure your assets are protected.

Life can be unpredictable and before committing to a legal relationship with your partner, we recommend beginning with an open and honest discussion about what happens if a breakdown should occur. This can provide you with peace of mind that your best interests are protected and ensure you begin your relationship as securely and relaxed as possible.

What is a pre-nuptial agreement?

A ‘prenup’ or premarital agreement is a written agreement made by a couple who plan to get married or enter into a civil partnership. It outlines how both parties assets will be split up in the event of a divorce, or the civil partnership is dissolved. It is signed by both parties before the marriage takes place.

There are several things to consider when drawing up a pre-nuptial agreement including:

  1. Family Home – how will this be divided? Will it be sold?
  2. Financial – this includes any money held by an individual or both parties, including savings and investments.
  3. Debts – if one party builds up debts, the agreement can limit the liability of the other party.
  4. Children – this can include children from a previous marriage and whether they have the right to any property or assets.
  5. Property – this includes property jointly owned or that either party brought into the relationship.
  6. Inheritance/Trust – property and assets inherited during the marriage or gained from a trust.

What is a post-nuptial agreement?

A ‘postnup’ is a written agreement made by a couple after they have got married or entered into a civil partnership. It states the financial settlement that would be made if they divorce, or the civil partnership is dissolved. Successive post-nuptial agreements can be made during the marriage or civil partnership to reflect changes in circumstances such as a property purchase, a new child or a significant pay rise.

Should I get a prenup?

An increasing number of couples are choosing to enter into pre-nuptial agreements and these are particularly common when one party has substantial wealth which they wish to protect in the event of a relationship breaking down. However, a pre-nuptial agreement is not just for the wealthy as couples may simply want to clarify what would happen if they were to divorce and a pre-nuptial agreement is likely to minimise any disagreement if they were to separate. It can provide greater clarity as to how assets will be divided and avoid or minimise the uncertainty, potential costs, and risk of emotional distress at the end of the relationship.

What happens if I do not have a pre-nuptial agreement?

When you marry or enter into a civil partnership, your assets become ‘matrimonial assets’ and can be divided between you and your partner within divorce proceedings.

Although the court has the power to make an order for Financial Remedy, a properly drafted prenup is highly influential in those proceedings and certainly allows the couple to influence the likely result and avoid costly litigation.

How long does a pre-nuptial agreement last?

A pre-nuptial agreement is a contract and so the length of the agreement can be included in its terms. Some couples choose to declare a date after which the agreement will no longer be valid, for example, a couple may agree that it is valid for the first 10 years of marriage.

Do you need legal advice for a pre-nuptial agreement?

Yes, both parties must seek independent legal advice on the agreement to ensure it is fair and lawful. Creating the agreement can be complicated and will require a lot of in-depth discussion on issues the parties may disagree on. Mediation is a great way to begin the process and ensure a level playing field.

If you would like to discuss any points in this article further or are looking for independent advice when creating a pre-nuptial agreement or would like to update your post-nuptial agreement, please contact Spire Solicitors LLP Family team on 01603 677077.