Media & Intellectual Property.

Prenuptial agreements, the topic which causes tension and friction between couples, does not have to be a conversation killer before getting married. Instead of getting cold feet, you should consider that this type of agreement does not mean a lack of love, a lack of trust, or even a lack of faith in a relationship. Instead it actually avoids greater wear and tear on the financial life of both, if the new relationship comes to an end, by safeguarding interests, vulnerabilities and the greater needs of both partners.

What is a prenuptial agreement?

A prenuptial agreement is a contract made before marriage that sets out how finances will be managed if there is a decision to divorce. It is usually used when one or both partners have substantial premarital wealth and wish to protect that wealth if the marriage fails.

Are prenuptial agreements valid in court?

This type of contract is not legally binding in England and Wales. However, they are usually considered (and followed) by a court to understand the details of what has been agreed, as long as they are entered into in the correct manner.

What questions will the court ask about the contract?

When presenting a prenuptial agreement in court, you may be asked the following questions to confirm validity of the contract:

  • How long before the wedding was the agreement signed?
  • Was there any pressure on the parties to sign it?
  • How was it negotiated?
  • Was there any negotiation or was the agreement imposed on one of the parties?
  • Has there been full and frank disclosure of both parties’ finances?
  • Did both parties receive completely separate and independent legal advice?

In court they will want to ensure that full financial disclosure has been given by each person before the settlement is drawn up. This means that each person must have provided each other with full financial details of wages, savings, investments, property, pension policies, debts, etc., so that the agreement is based on full financial knowledge at the time of signing the agreement and that there is validation of its veracity.

Can the agreement be modified after marriage?

A prenuptial agreement cannot be modified once it has been agreed and signed by both parties, or once the couple is married. If a couple is unhappy with the terms of an agreement, they can enter into a postnuptial agreement to make changes to the prenuptial agreement. Postnuptial agreements are also not legally binding and are taken into account by the court if the relationship ends, but are created after marriage. Alternatively, it is possible to review a prenuptial agreement if a review clause exists in the agreement, which will allow the couple to update the terms of the agreement depending on their circumstances.

Can you write a prenuptial agreement yourself?

A prenuptial agreement is a legal document, which means that it must be written in a clear and professional manner, bringing benefits to both parties who sign it. If an agreement is not reviewed and/or written by a solicitor, it is unlikely that the court will uphold the contract during a divorce. To ensure that your agreement is valid, it is best to instruct a solicitor to guide you through the contract details. Our family team are on hand to assist you before you take the step into marriage. Please call us on 020 3588 3500 to get started with your prenuptial agreement.