Planning a wedding? It might not be the most romantic part of your plans but a pre-nuptial agreement could save heartache later on.
As the average age for marriage increases and those entering marriage or civil partnerships are likely to have accrued considerable assets before they take the plunge so it makes sense to agree on what should happen if you need to be dividing up those assets at a later stage.
Are pre-nuptials binding?
The main reason why pre-nuptial contracts have not been not more common in England and Wales is that, strictly speaking, they are not binding. However in a growing number of cases which have been judicially decided over the past 5 years the courts are paying more notice to the existence of a pre-nuptial agreement. There has been movement towards the position where the courts acknowledge that in a situation where the parties have a properly drawn up pre nuptial agreement its contents should be given weight. As the length of an average marriage is continuing to decrease the pre-nuptial agreement is likely to assume greater significance although factors such as needs, in particular those arising where there are children of the family will still predominate.
If you are planning to marry, and particularly where you hold assets which you might wish to preserve if the marriage breaks down, it may be sensible to seek advice on the steps you can take to protect your position. An agreement will commonly make provision that the parties each retain any property respectively owned before marriage and deal with what will happen to property such as a home purchased for joint occupation.
Even where you decide a pre-nup is not for you it, it can be sensible as part of your wedding plans to take legal advice on what will happen if one of you dies, for example to jointly owned property. A simple will may ensure your intentions are met.
By Alison Dukes