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Things I wish I knew before I... Got a pre-nup

Prenuptial agreements, or pre-nups, have been increasing in popularity over recent years. Older people are marrying later in life and living together longer are just a couple of reasons why pre-nups have been thrown into the spotlight. So, when it comes to gathering a lifetime’s worth of assets, it is hardly surprising that people are increasingly looking to protect them.

The most common age bracket for those entering a nuptial agreement was 31 to 45. The main driver for pre-nups was wealth protection, with over two-thirds (68%) of those surveyed citing this as the main reason for the agreements they had advised on. 32% cited other drivers including minimising the risk of adverse outcomes on divorce/providing more certainty (15%), pressure/encouragement from third parties i.e. parents/children/trustees (9%) and 8% giving other reasons, such as protection of business interests.

However, many are still turned off by the idea of an unromanticised pre-nup. Some say a prenuptial agreement, is “not worth the paper it is written on”, because they are not automatically binding in England and Wales. But, if a pre-nup is done properly, and fairly, there is a chance it will be upheld in court. If it doesn’t exist then you have no chance.

In the event of a separation, a pre-nup can still take specifics into consideration. Many couples assume that assets are divided 50/50, but a pre-nup can look upon one party more favourably, however, it is worth bearing in mind that this is often only used as a starting point. Even if a couple agree on an equal share of property or other financial ties, there can be more difficult factors to consider, such as any future projects, care for children or other responsibilities such as insurances or later life care.

You can also opt for a post-nuptial agreement or “post-nup” (an agreement which is drafted after marriage in the event of a pre-nup not being drawn up at the time, or due to a change in circumstances). There will be more on post-nups in a later blog, but the area of pre- and post-nup law is complicated and there are various criteria that need to be fulfilled – so make sure you seek the right advice.

Speak to the Family law team at Downs Solicitors if you would like some further advice relating to your existing pre-nup, or you would like more information about planning for your pre-nuptial agreement.

Posted on 15/05/2019 by Richard Middlehurst

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