Your wedding is an exciting and special day, and anyone who has been involved in arranging one will know that there is a lot to think about so it is important for all preparations to be handled well in advance of the big day, including legal matters! Over recent years the popularity of pre-martial agreements has steadily risen.  This may be because people are marrying later in life, meaning that by the time of the wedding they have often accrued more assets that they wish to protect.   People are also more aware that not all marriages last forever and, in fact, around 42% of marriages end in a divorce. Many people want to plan for all eventualities, treating a pre-marital agreement like an insurance policy that they hope they will never need to use.

What is a pre-marital agreement?

Pre-marital agreements, also known as prenups, are entered into by couples before marriage, setting out how their assets will be divided should they separate. Married couples can also make similar arrangements; even if the relationship is healthy, they can sign a ‘post-marital agreement’ to avoid future uncertainty should they split up in years to come.

How do I get a pre-marital agreement?

If you have decided you want a pre-marital agreement, it is always best to be clear and upfront with your partner, understanding that there will be a full financial disclosure prior to preparing the agreements. You may also wish to discuss with your partner what would happen in certain situations such as having children or if there are sickness/employment complications.

When should a pre-marital agreement be signed?

Pre-marital agreements should be signed at least 28 days before the date of the marriage. Couples also need to take into consideration the fact that they will each need to take independent legal advice and of course the time required to draft the agreement itself. Over half of all UK marriages take place between June and September, meaning if you have a summer wedding planned this year and would like advice on a pre-marital agreement, you should consider instructing a solicitor soon.

What can be included in a pre-marital agreement?

In the majority of cases, pre-marital agreements are used to regulate the distribution of assets upon separation/ divorce. Other issues that could be included are; protection against claims over pre-existing property or business assets, claims over inherited assets (whether or not the inheritance has already been received at the time of marriage), pensions, etc.

It is important to note that pre-marital agreements are not currently legally binding in the UK, although a properly drafted agreement will dramatically improve your changes of it being taking into consideration in court. As pre-marital agreements are becoming increasingly more common, it is possible that legislation will change in time.

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Published: 11/04/19