Pre-nuptial agreements

A family law solicitor can set up a pre-nuptial agreement before you get married or enter a civil partnership, to protect your family and finances if you separate.

Sally Powell, Bishop's Stortford

What is a pre-nuptial agreement?

A pre-nuptial agreement is a legal document that sets out who gets what if you get divorced or dissolve your civil partnership. Your pre-nuptial agreement should be signed at least 28 days before the date of your marriage/civil partnership.

Do I need a pre-nuptial agreement? 

Pre-nuptial agreements are particularly useful if you need to protect assets acquired before your relationship started. Examples of assets a pre-nuptial agreements cover are:

  • Your finances – including pensions, investments and financial support
  • Houses and property – such as your family home, or buy to let investments
  • Your business interests – if you own your own business or shares
  • Valuable possessions – such as cars, antiques and family heirlooms.

If you have children, a pre-nuptial agreement sets out how you agree child custody and arrangements should be handled if your relationship later breaks down.

Prenuptial agreements are also an effective way of protecting wealth brought into the marriage, such as through an inheritance or gift from a family member. 

Are pre-nuptial agreements legally enforceable? 

A prenuptial agreement which has been prepared in the right way is increasingly likely to be enforced by the family courts. That is not to say they are 100%, but they are often given substantial weight if the correct formalities are used when the pre-nuptial agreement is prepared.

To give a pre-nuptial agreement the best chance of being followed by a court, those entering into the agreement should following the following principles:

  • Both parties should receive independent legal advice
  • There should be full and frank disclosure in relation to all circumstances but particularly finances
  • There should be no undue influence to enter into the agreement – often this is considered to be time pressure and therefore completing the agreement at least a month before the wedding is considered good practice
  • The agreement should be fair in the circumstances.

If both partners enter into the agreement with a full appreciation of the implications, the Court should uphold it (unless it would be unfair to do so). Fairness is key if the agreement is to hold up in court. 

There are circumstances where a pre-nuptial agreement won’t be upheld but there needs to be a valid reason.  The methods to challenge a pre-nuptial agreement usual focus on whether the four principles above have been followed.

Pre-nuptial agreement solicitors

Pre-nuptial agreements are complex legal documents and should be prepared by specialist family law solicitor. A solicitor will: 

  • Identify your key assets
  • Advise on your legal responsibilities
  • Draft a pre-nuptial agreement that will stand up in court.

At Tees we have practical, in-depth experience of preparing pre-nuptial agreements and dealing with complex family situations. We will help you create an agreement that works for your family, and how such agreements hold up in court.

What to do next

If you want to find out more about setting up a pre-nuptial agreement, call our family law team and a dedicated family law solicitor will explain your options and tell you how we can help.

Come in and see us for a FREE 30 minute face-to-face consultation about your options. Alternatively, if you want us to take a closer look at your situation, for a fixed fee of £150 + VAT, we can talk with you for up to 90 minutes.

Call our Family and Divorce Law solicitors on 0800 0131165

For a free initial chat, at no obligation, or fill out our enquiry form and a solicitor will get in touch.

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