A pre-nuptial agreement or “pre-nup” is a way a couple getting married or entering into a civil partnership can both protect the assets they own pre-marriage and also sort out their divorce settlement in respect of those assets in advance.
Following a landmark legal case in 2010 when a “prenup” was recognised by an English Court for the first time they have become more common, although to date they have been thought of as the preserve of the rich and/or famous. However, The Law Commission, which is a government funded body who look at law reform, want them to become more main stream and recently recommended introducing “Qualifying Nuptual Agreements”, which would be legally enforceable if certain formal procedural safeguards are met. The procedural safeguards would be that:
1. The agreement is contractually valid (ie not open to suggestions of undue influence).
2. Must be signed by deed and contain a statement that the parties understand the nature of what they are entering into
3. Must not have been made within 28 days of the wedding or civil partnership
4. Both parties must have received full and accurate disclosure of the other party’s financial situation at the time the agreement is made
5. Both parties must have taken independent legal advice
Pre-nups aren’t romantic but neither is making a Will or buying life insurance, but both are sensible precautions against future mishap. So I hope pre-nups become more common place and are not thought of as a luxury for remote rich people because in reality it is the less well off in society who are more severely impacted by divorce.
And whilst I dare say lawyers will benefit from being paid to draw up Qualifying Nuptual Agreements, they benefit more from long drawn out Court battles.
Also think about the cost of an average wedding. Compared to that, the cost of drawing up a pre-nup is likely to be small fry. So when my three daughters, Charlotte, Isabelle & Kitty eventually bring home a fiancé, I hope both parties have signed up to a Qualifying Nuptial Agreement before I am asked to sign a cheque for the wedding.