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A quick guide to pre-nuptial agreements

Most people are aware that a pre-nuptial agreement can be entered into before marriage in order to help determine what would happen to finances in the event of any divorce. What people are often not aware of is that a pre-nuptial Agreement is a complex legal document with various technical requirements that need to be complied with. This means that even if you think that your pre-nuptial agreement is going to be very straightforward, it will still need to be properly drafted by a specialist solicitor to ensure that it is valid.

Pre-nuptial agreements are not currently binding in English law but they are part of the circumstances that a court would take into consideration in the event of a divorce, although this is only usually the case if the pre-nuptial agreement has been correctly prepared and is valid.

A pre-nuptial agreement is able to protect particular assets so that if, for example, you own a property prior to marriage, you may be able to provide in the pre-nuptial agreement that you would be able to keep this property in the event of a divorce. It can also provide what would happen to jointly owned assets or to assets that you or your spouse may acquire in the future. The agreement can make specific provision for financial support to be provided to your ex-spouse, where appropriate. This may be by way of a lump sum payment or perhaps by way of regular monthly maintenance payments.

Before you can enter into a pre-nuptial agreement it is important to ensure that both you and your future spouse have a clear idea of all of the assets that you each have, and that you are given the opportunity to view documentation about these assets. This is called disclosure. Disclosure can take place in various different forms depending on the extent of the assets and the agreement you want to reach. You should take advise from your solicitor as to what type of disclosure is most appropriate for you.

It is then important to consider exactly what you want your pre-nuptial agreement to say. It is a good idea to think about different scenarios and to consider the effect of your agreement on both you and your spouse if you were to divorce. If the overall agreement does not seem to be fair and does not meet yours or your spouse’s needs, it is less likely to be followed by a court. It is important that you discuss the proposed terms of the pre-nuptial agreement with your solicitor so that they can advise you as to whether a court is likely to uphold your agreement.

A pre-nuptial agreement is something that should be considered well in advance of the wedding itself. Depending on your circumstances and the assets concerned, it can take around three months to complete a pre-nuptial agreement and the documentation should ideally be signed at least a month in advance of the wedding. It is never too early to begin the process, although we can usually prepare a pre-nuptial agreement very quickly when required.

Anyone who is getting married may choose to enter into a pre-nuptial agreement. They can be particularly helpful if you have children from a previous relationship, if you are bringing assets into the marriage or if you have been married previously. If you would like to find out more about our fixed fee pre-nuptial agreement service, please contact us.

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