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Family Law Partners on the reality of Pre-Nuptial Agreements

PUBLISHED: 13:48 08 August 2013 | UPDATED: 13:48 08 August 2013

Lisa Burton-Durham

Lisa Burton-Durham

Archant

We take out life insurance as a sensible step in case the worst happens; we wouldn't dream of driving a car without insurance and we certainly wouldn't go skiing without travel insurance. In fact everything we do in life is tied up in contracts and disclaimers. So why don't us Brits think the same way about marriage?

In much of Europe and the US, Pre-Nuptial Agreements have become the norm - proving that they are not just for the rich and famous. However, in England and Wales we seem to be far more reserved often dismissing the idea out of hand as “unromantic and pessimistic”.

However unromantic it may seem, Pre-Nuptial Agreements are about both parties feeling secure in their relationship. They give couples the power to make financial arrangements between themselves and provide security and protection in the event that their union fails. In my experience couples who enter the agreements view their relationship in quite the opposite way.

What is a Pre-Nup?

A Pre-Nuptial Agreement is a document made by a couple before their marriage (or Civil Partnership) which sets out how their assets will be dealt with upon divorce. They establish who comes out with what.

Do I need one?

A Pre-Nup is not essential for everyone. However if you or your partner find yourself in any of the following circumstances, it is at least worth considering:

• You are getting married later in life and have already built up assets of your own and you wish to protect them

• You own a business

• You are expecting an inheritance

• You have children from a previous relationship and wish them to inherit rather than your spouse

• You have significant assets such as properties, investments, jewellery, antiques etc

• You are getting married for a second time

• You have a significantly higher income than your partner

Are they legal?

Following a landmark decision in the Supreme Court, in effect, Pre-Nups are now binding unless they are considered by the court to be unfair. A list of factors have to be looked at by the court when considering the weight to be placed upon any pre-nuptial agreement in the event of a divorce such as whether any pressure was exerted upon the other to enter into the agreement amongst other things.

How do I go about getting one?

A Pre-Nup is a bespoke document and should always be drafted by an experienced family lawyer. It is therefore vital to seek legal advice from a Resolution Lawyer (www.resolution.org). Options such as Mediation and Collaborative Law can assist greatly in discussing the issues and reaching an agreement.

Pre-Nups offer predictability and marriage is unpredictable.

• If you need any advice in relation to the above or any other aspect of family please contact Lisa Burton-Durham for an informal discussion on (01273) 646907 or email lisa@familylawpartners.co.uk

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