Prenuptial Agreements

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Prenuptial Agreements
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A prenuptial agreement, commonly referred to as a ‘prenup’ in the UK, offers a layer of certainty against the potential risks associated with divorce. It can safeguard pre-marriage assets, inheritances, and existing family commitments, such as children from prior relationships. To ensure an effective prenup, it’s essential to seek expert legal advice, a service that our team is pleased to offer.

A prenuptial agreement is a legal document where a couple outlines their financial rights and responsibilities, particularly concerning any jointly owned or individually acquired assets (e.g., through inheritance) or debts. Upon marriage, these assets typically become part of the matrimonial assets, unless specifically protected. The primary aim of a prenup often revolves around limiting potential claims on one party’s wealth in the event of marriage dissolution.

Anyone considering marriage should contemplate whether a prenup is necessary. Our seasoned prenuptial agreement solicitors can assist with various aspects, including:

  • Determining the necessity of a prenup
  • Guidance on what to incorporate in the agreement
  • Negotiating terms with your partner
  • Drafting the prenuptial agreement
  • Providing advice on terms if asked to sign a prenup

What is a prenuptial agreement?

A prenuptial agreement (or ‘prenup’) in the UK is a legal contract prepared by a couple before their marriage, specifying how their assets will be distributed in case of divorce. Typically, these agreements cover assets such as property, debts, and income, aiming to prevent financial surprises if the marriage ends.

Prenuptial agreements are commonly used when one partner possesses or is expected to gain more assets than the other, such as through inheritance, property ownership, business ownership, or in cases of later-in-life marriages or second marriages.

What is the purpose of a prenuptial agreement?

The primary aim of a prenuptial agreement is to offer clarity to couples regarding the division of assets should the relationship end, with specific details tailored to each case.

Common provisions in prenuptial agreements include:

  • Safeguarding children’s inheritance or specific assets
  • Protecting inherited wealth, assets, or savings
  • Providing both parties a voice in asset distribution in case of divorce
  • Allowing one partner to maintain sole control over business ownership
  • Shielding one partner from the other’s debts

Why should I have a prenuptial agreement?

Consider establishing a prenuptial agreement (commonly referred to as a prenup) before marriage if you wish to specify how your property and finances will be managed during the marriage and resolved in case of divorce.

Similarly, if entering a civil partnership, a pre-registration agreement can be drafted.

A prenup serves to safeguard yours or your spouse’s assets in the event of divorce, providing clarity by predefining asset distribution rather than relying on court discretion.

What should be included in a prenuptial agreement?

Prenuptial agreements are put in place to protect a range of assets and are completely tailored to your and your partner’s needs.

Usually, they will contain an inventory of each of your assets and details on how you both wish for them to be looked after during your marriage and how they will be split should your relationship break down.

If there are any assets you would prefer not to be divided or split between you and your partner if you decide to divorce in the future, these should be included in your prenuptial agreement.

Prenuptial agreement clauses usually include:

  • Property held in your sole name or in joint names
  • Savings held in bank accounts
  • Premium bonds
  • Inheritance
  • Stocks and shares
  • Pension pots
  • Income
  • Business interests

One of the best places to start when creating a prenuptial agreement is to make a list of all the assets you own, both solely and jointly, and then decide on how you would like them to be dealt with in the event of a divorce.

When signing a prenuptial agreement, you will be able to decide whether one partner keeps the assets, whether you will split them and what portion each of your will receive. A prenuptial agreement may prevent your partner from automatically receiving a share of your assets in any divorce settlement.

What cannot be included in a prenup?

While premarital agreements can address various assets, it’s important to adhere to strict guidelines on their contents. Failing to consider these rules when signing a prenuptial agreement may lead to the agreement not being upheld in court.

Items that cannot be included in a prenuptial agreement are:

  • Child custody arrangements, including visitation rights, religious upbringing, and schooling
  • Child support obligations
  • Personal matters unrelated to financial arrangements
  • Illegal or unfair provisions
  • Lifestyle preferences or matters
From the start to finish we were made to feel welcome every time and we had an appointment with Danielle Shawcross and her team. Whatever points we didn't understand the team did their utmost efforts to help us.
Barry Hadfield

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