COVID-19 pandemic has implications for Pre-Nuptial and Post-Nuptial Agreements

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As the wedding season approaches, many couples are being forced to revise their plans to hold such ceremonies due the restrictions imposed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Not only is the current situation impacting on marriages, it’s also affecting decisions surrounding Pre-Nuptial and Post-Nuptial Agreements.

There are a number of options for couples to make financial plans should their marriage or civil partnership break down. A Pre-Nuptial Agreement (‘Pre-Nup’) or Pre-Civil Partnership Agreement can be drawn up before a marriage or civil partnership takes place to establish such arrangements. Alternatively, this can be done after the marriage or civil partnership through a Post-Nuptial Agreement (‘Post-Nup’) or Post-Partnership agreement.

Whilst not absolutely binding on a Court in England and Wales in the way they may be in other jurisdictions, Pre-Nups and Post-Nups are increasingly popular as couples become aware of the benefits they provide. Whilst some people may view such arrangements as unromantic and a self-fulfilling prophecy, in reality, they can be a positive step that allows couples to be clear on what is expected of them.

Having such an agreement in place can help avoid unnecessary conflict, as well as time and expense that can come with high conflict separations. Indeed, they can all be regarded as a form of insurance policy. Their importance is underlined by the fact that more than 40% of marriages end in divorce, with an even higher rate for second marriages.

Of course, there are differences between a Pre-Nup and a Post-Nup, given the timing of when they are made. In the current situation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, many couples are choosing to delay their weddings because they cannot be held in the way they would wish and with the number of guests they would hope to invite. However, it’s important to note that, under normal circumstances, a Pre-Nupital Agreement is made on the basis that the marriage would take place within 6-12 months of the Pre-Nup being signed. It may therefore be preferable to wait until restrictions on marriage ceremonies are lifted before making a Pre-Nup. Alternatively, a couple may wish to consider a Post-Nup or a Post-Partnership Agreement instead to avoid this potential issue.