Pre and Post-Nuptial Agreements

Nobody likes to think that their marriage or civil partnership may one day come to an end. All the same it is sensible to consider your financial position in the event your relationship does irretrievably break down.

Pre and post-nuptial agreements are becoming increasingly popular among couples who want to ensure their separate property is protected in the event they permanently separate. Under current legislation, these agreements are not legally binding in the UK. However, in the 2010 case of Radmacher vs Granatino, the Supreme Court ruled that they could carry legal weight in certain circumstances.

This guide is designed to give a general introduction to the subject, but please remember that you should always seek expert legal advice before entering into any arrangement.

Things to consider before entering into an agreement

There are lots of reasons that couples may decide to sign a pre or post-nuptial agreement. On average, people are getting married/entering into a civil partnership later in life, which means they may have already accumulated considerable assets. Others may have children from a previous relationship or marriage and want to ensure that any money or property is preserved for them. However, entering into a nuptial agreement is a decision that requires careful consideration and there are several things that a couple must bear in mind:

  • Both parties should seek independent legal advice before signing an agreement. This protects both parties against any later claim that their partner was pressurised into signing the document.
  • Make sure you allow plenty of time to draw up a nuptial agreement. If you are looking to sign it before a wedding or civil partnership takes place, you should allow a minimum of 28 days.
  • Both parties must be prepared to fully disclose all their assets and financial circumstances.

What an agreement should cover

A pre or post-nuptial agreement will be specific to each couple, but there are several issues that should always be addressed:

  • What happens to the assets belonging to each partner before the civil partnership or marriage, as well as those accumulated during the relationship.
  • What will happen to a couple's home, in regards to who will live there after a separation and how the proceeds will be divided should the property be sold.
  • Whether there is a need for review causes, for example, if a child is born or a party comes into an inheritance.

Protecting parents' interests

These days, an increasing number of parents help their children to buy their first home or, later in life, may buy a larger property jointly with their son or daughter. If the parent sees the money as an investment or wishes to recover it if a relationship breaks down, this should be recorded in a nuptial agreement. This would help prevent costly disputes over whether or not the money was intended as a gift.

To find out more about nuptial agreements please contact Mark Goldstein on 020 7616 5322 or [email protected]