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Pre-Nuptial Agreement – Is it worth the paper it is written on?

Not the most romantic of topics for those soon to walk down the aisle together but given the current state of divorce law Pre-Nuptial Agreements are becoming a pre-wedding requisite for many to consider.

Who should do one?

Anyone who is taking pre-acquired wealth into a marriage (property, pension or business assets) who seeks to ring fence and protect it in the event of a subsequent divorce.

A more delicate but an essential consideration is when young people are marrying and their parents want to gift to them or they may subsequently inherit wealth during the course of the marriage.

The parents of those marrying can seek to protect wealth they pass down by lifetime gift or which may be inherited in the event of their death by persuading their children to enter into a Pre-Nuptial Agreement.

It is obviously a sensitive topic but the parents can encourage the marrying couple to enter into a Pre-Nuptial Agreement which will provide for the ring fencing and protection of any claims upon those assets gifted or to be inherited in the event of a subsequent divorce.

Are they enforceable?

The simple answer is yes and in fact more so than ever provided they are completed and signed off at least 1 month before the wedding day. It is also important that both parties have the opportunity to take legal advice and both parties provide a full breakdown as to their financial circumstances. Finally, there should be no undue pressure or influence by one party on the other.

If those criteria are met then a Pre-Nuptial Agreement is a must document to have in place in the event of subsequent marital breakdown.

Conclusion

Long gone are the days when lawyers would advise that a Pre-Nuptial Agreement "isn’t worth the paper it is written on". It is now worth a lot more than that. 

This information is intended as a general discussion surrounding the topics covered and is for guidance purposes only. It does not constitute legal advice and should not be regarded as a substitute for taking legal advice. DWF is not responsible for any activity undertaken based on this information.

David Pickering

Partner - National Head of Family

I am National Head of the Family Team and am rated as a leader in my field for the provision of expert family law advice.