Prenuptial Agreement – what is it?
A Prenuptial agreement (or Prenups) is an agreement in which a couple set out their rights in relation to any property, debts, income and other assets purchased together or that they are bringing into a cohabitation relationship.
These are also sometimes called a Cohabitation Agreement or a Settlement Agreement. In effect it allows the parties to protect their separate property and assets.
It used to be that only wealthy people or Hollywood stars would enter into prenuptial agreements or Cohabitation Agreements and, these often made headline news in the tabloids.
But today, a prenuptial agreement is very common amongst parties to a relationship wishing to embark on a life together in very clear terms, setting out precisely what they expect of each other in the event that their relationship may one day change.
By law, once you marry, all assets become matrimonial assets and unless they are otherwise protected by such an agreement, all assets are viewed as one.
Prenuptial agreements must be entered into at least 21 days before marriage. If you are already married you can not make a prenuptial agreement, although you may still be able to enter into a post-nuptial agreement.
Prenuptial agreements can also be used to protect one party to a marriage from the debts incurred by the other party before the marriage.
This is particularly useful in these days where individuals carry vast amounts of personal debt.
Most often the purpose of a prenuptial agreement will be to limit the potential claims on the wealth of one of the parties to the marriage.
Often these are used in situations where one party has previously had children from another partner, and the new step-parent is concerned of potential future claims from those children or their family.
Prenuptial agreements can be very flexible and can be drafted in such a manner as to take account of future changes in circumstances, such as the birth of a child or the payment of an anticipated bonus or share allocation or even anticipated future inheritance.
We can draft and prepare a Prenuptial Agreement, tailored to your specific circumstances at an unbeatable Fixed Fee; giving you peace of mind knowing that all your finances have been safely protected by specialist Family Law Solicitors.
How prenuptial agreements work – an overview
Naturally, like any other type of agreement, a prenuptial agreement can be challenged later in court by an aggrieved partner. But in assessing the value of such an agreement, the courts ask themselves certain questions, such as:
- when entering the agreement, did both parties fully understand the nature of the agreement?
- did both parties receive independent legal advice?
- was there any pressure on any of the parties to sign the agreement?
- did the party with most to lose make a full and frank disclosure of their financial status?
- would it now be unjust to enforce the agreement, taking into account events during the signing of the agreement and events since?
What process is involved in prenuptial agreements?
Prenuptial agreements require careful drafting and preparation, taking into account full detailed financial disclosure from both parties.
It is important that both parties to the agreement receive independent legal advice, so one of the parties to the agreement will be advised by us to seek advice on what they are signing from another firm of solicitors, to ensure that the minimum of complications can arise.
It is not possible to rewrite the law with a prenuptial agreement and exclude the courts from every possible dispute which may arise in the future, because courts will always retain their discretionary powers to order what they deem best.
But a prenuptial agreement certainly goes a long way toward setting the record straight, in the event that disputes do later occur in the marriage.
Prenuptial agreements are no longer the reserve of millionaires or superstars. Anybody with an asset, property or something of value can seek to protect it, in the event of a marriage breakdown.
It is a sad fact of modern life that many marriages end in divorce. To enter a prenuptial agreement in these circumstances is only logical. However if you are considering a prenuptial agreement (also called Prenups), then you should contact us early on.
There are many strict rules that apply to prenuptial agreements and one of these is that the agreement must be finalised at least 21 days before the marriage.
Another requirement is that both parties to the agreement must have separate independent legal representation during the agreement negotiation and conclusion process.
Mansouri & Son Solicitors can prepare your prenuptial agreement at a simple Fixed Fee.
Civil Partnership and Pre-Civil Partnership Agreements
The Civil Partnership Act 2004 came into force on 5th December 2005. It provides a legal framework for establishing a new concept of recognised legal relationship between same sex couples, carrying most of the rights responsibilities and other consequences of marriage.
The new law enabled same sex couples to register their union as a civil partnership and it allows lesbians and gays to acquire legal and financial rights and protections as civil partners.
It is very similar to the rights acquired by heterosexual couples under the laws governing the traditional institution of marriage.
A Civil Partnership ceremony affects finance, property and assets as well as pensions, Social Security, Tax Credits and Child Support.
In addition it affects inheritance and tax planning. However the law has been amended further since the introduction of Civil Partnerships and same sex couples are now free to marry in exactly the same way as traditional couples.
Pre-nuptial and pre-civil partnership agreements are not very romantic, but they too are a relatively new way of affording you the opportunity to avoid contested or expensive legal battles over the assets of the civil partnership.
We can assist you in the preparation of such agreements at a simple and unambiguous fixed fee.
To book an appointment to discuss your requirements confidentially, please call 020 8401 7352 during working hours