Pre-nuptial Agreements

Previously regarded as the preserve of the cautious wealthy, these agreements have now been given approval from the Supreme Court following the recent decision in Radmacher v Granatino (October 2010). Whilst there is still no statutory provision upholding such arrangements it is clear that they are gaining ground and their terms will, in certain circumstances, be upheld by the court in deciding any subsequent claim made.

The agreement can provide a code as to how you agree to manage your finances during the marriage. It can also specify what you expect to happen should either of you die. It is important to note, however, that Wills are required to carry out your wishes upon death. Foreign Wills may also be necessary.

It is crucial that both sides to a prenuptial agreement seek advice from independent solicitors and full disclosure of the other party’s assets and income before they commit themselves. Such agreements are hard to negotiate as effectively one tries to cater for all scenarios that may evolve in the future of the relationship.

These agreements must not be rushed, must be considered a long time before the wedding invitations are sent out and above all they must be fair in their effects of the proper maintenance requirements of the economically weaker spouse, and any dependent children are provided for.

There is not a "standard" form of prenuptial agreement in England, because in English law marriage does not alter the ownership of property. This is unlike some countries, where marriage will create a "community of property" unless there is a prenuptial agreement.

Because the question of what is fair varies so much for individual circumstances, prenuptial agreements have to be carefully drafted to fit individual circumstances.

Because the question of what is fair varies so much for individual circumstances, prenuptial agreements have to be carefully drafted to fit individual circumstances.

Example situations where an agreement may be required:

  • Couples pooling their earnings to buy a property.
  • Couples intending to have a first child, and planning their future finances.
  • Where there are children from a previous relationship.
  • One party is wealthier than the other or has been married previously.
  • One party is at risk of insolvency due to business downturns or other issues.
  • Couples getting married after having already cohabited and considering combining finances.
  • Where parents or relatives are contributing to a house or savings fund.

For a confidential discussion, call us on (0121) 616 5040 or email us.