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Can a pre-nuptial agreement help to save your marriage?
The 2018 wedding season is just around the corner and has an extra buzz with the prospect of two royal ceremonies. If you are tying the knot this year, then you probably have most plans in place already. But have you considered adding a pre-nuptial agreement to your to-do list? Understandably, some couples do not want to contemplate what happens if their marriage does not have a fairy-tale ending.
A pre-nuptial agreement is a legal document that is designed to make things easier to sort out if the marriage breaks down and can, in fact, strengthen your marriage by:
- Protecting any pre-existing fortune from being split
- Protecting a spouse from their partner’s debt
- Providing for children from a previous relationship
- Keeping family property within the family
- Helping prevent solicitor fees from mounting up
A pre-nuptial agreement is enforceable in the UK, although judges have the discretion to ignore it, especially if it is considered unfair to any children of the marriage.
Money is the leading cause of stress in relationships – and that stress can sometimes strain a relationship to breaking point. However, the terms of a pre-nuptial agreement can clearly outline your approach to handling your finances in advance. It means that many financial issues have already been agreed upon, such school fees and how any inheritance should be handled. Deciding these financial arrangements in advance could help prevent future arguments that could lead to a divorce.
These agreements are no longer just the preserve of celebrities and the super-rich. Anyone can benefit from the peace of mind that a pre-nuptial agreement can bring, and they may be especially relevant if:
- You have built up a business and do not wish to sell it if you do divorce
- You want to ensure that children from any previous relationship will not lose any inheritance rights
- You have, or are likely to inherit, a family home that you want to keep in the family
A pre-nuptial agreement can also include a ‘debt clause’ to protect you from being liable for that debt.
To comply with the law, a pre-nuptial agreement should be drawn up and signed by a qualified lawyer. There is no ‘one-size fits all’ solution so it is a good idea to speak to a family law specialist with expert knowledge and understanding of this niche area who can effectively meet your specific needs.
In most cases, a pre-nuptial agreement will list all the assets of both partners and how they will be handled in the event of a divorce. Both parties must fully disclose all assets and property and they will need to confirm that they voluntarily agree to the pre-nuptial arrangements. You and your partner will need to use separate solicitors, and the agreement should be signed at least 21 days before the marriage.
Your pre-nuptial agreement can be changed at any time, providing both parties agree to this. Alternatively, if you are already married, then a post-nuptial agreement may be a viable option and can be entered into at any time.