Are Pre-Nups Just For The Super Rich?

They aren’t considered to be particularly romantic, but a prenuptial agreement (pre-nup) is a way of protecting your assets, should your marriage or civil partnership breakdown.

A lot of people think that pre-nups are only for millionaires and lottery winners, but they are becoming more and more important as people enter blended families or marry later in life when assets are greater. If you have significantly more wealth than your partner, personally or via a business, or have children from a previous relationship you’d like to protect, then you should consider a nuptial agreement.

What is a pre-nup?

A pre-nup is a legal agreement between a couple, which sets out how finances or assets will be distributed, in the event of divorce.

They can be used to ring-fence assets that one or both parties bring to a marriage, or be used to protect assets inherited during the marriage. Where possible they should be flexible, in order to deal with changes in the family such as having children or illness – backed up by an up to date will.

Are pre-nups legally binding?

No. A pre-nup is not legally binding in English law, however, they are becoming increasing upheld provided that they are entered into fairly, on a voluntary basis, with financial disclosure and both parties having received independent legal advice before doing so.

Pre-nups do not overrule a court’s decision on financial arrangements on divorce but they do carry some influence.

I’m already married – how can I protect my assets?

It is possible to record an agreement after marriage or civil partnership; these are called post-nuptial agreements.

Similarly to a pre-nup they outline the decision reached between a couple in relation to what will happen to their finances, should the relationship breakdown.

Some couples who have already entered into a pre-nup choose to enter into a further post-nup to confirm the arrangements still stand.

For the best chance of these agreements being upheld, as with a pre-nup, a post-nup must be entered into fairly, with financial disclosure and after independent legal advice.

Written by Jane Charlton,
legal director at Shakespeare Martineau in Milton Keynes