Should I put a pre-nuptial agreement in place before I get married or register a civil partnership?

One of the biggest issues when getting divorced or dissolving a civil partnership is unpicking your respective finances. Increasing numbers of couples are considering putting a pre-nuptial agreement in place before they marry or enter a civil partnership to help provide a road map for untangling their finances if they separate.

What is a pre-nuptial agreement?

A pre-nup is essentially an agreement that a couple can enter which clearly sets out how any properties and assets they own will be divided in the event of their separation.

Are they legally binding in the UK?

Pre-nuptial agreements are not formally recognised by UK law, so the UK Family Court will not be obliged to follow what it says if you separate. The Family Court always has to decide what is fair and reasonable in terms of a financial settlement, considering the needs of each partner and any children.NGA_Stock_180

However, a pre-nuptial agreement will be taken into account by the court. There have been a number of high profile cases which have considered pre-nuptial agreements, with one of the most well-known setting out that the court should give effect to an agreement if:

  1. it has been freely entered into
  2. each partner had a full appreciation of the implications of the agreement; and
  3. it is not unfair to hold the parties to their agreement.


What does this mean for me going forward?

The court currently considers pre-nuptial agreements on a case-by-case basis, and so it can be sensible to put one in place if you feel this is necessary.

To give your agreement the best chance of being given weight by the UK, we would recommend signing it in good time ahead of your marriage/civil partnership and each of you seeking legal advice before you do. It is crucial that both parties give full financial disclosure before entering into an agreement.

How we can help

We can help you decide whether entering into a pre-nuptial agreement is something you want to do; we can discuss what rights you might have or be giving up if you were to enter the arrangement, the key elements you may wish to include in your agreement and the best way to facilitate discussions about the agreement between you and your partner. We can also prepare a pre-nuptial agreement for you and negotiate its terms with your partner (and his or her legal representatives).

Do get in touch with us and we can explain the best way forward. We have a team of solicitors and mediators who can discuss the best approach to take and we will be very happy to support you.

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