February 11, 2015

Prenups – the perfect Valentine’s gift: seven questions to pop

Valentine’s Day is traditionally a time for a flurry of marriage proposals.

While savouring the champagne, red roses and delicious chocolates – we’d also urge engaged couples to consider pre-marital arrangements.

It may seem unromantic, but a frank talk about financial provisions before tying the knot could help prevent heartbreak in the long term.

Disagreements about money are one of the major causes of bitterness, uncertainty, anxiety and cost arising from marital breakdown. We believe it is far better to have agreed how to split your assets and to have drawn up a prenuptial agreement before you say ‘I do’.

Prenups are on the increase, They are particularly popular with couples marrying for a second time. Here we answer seven of the most commonly asked questions.

  1. I’m not super rich – is a prenup right for me?

It’s true that pre-nuptial agreements were once regarded as the preserve of the wealthy, However, people with more modest incomes are increasingly seeking advice because they understand the benefits of setting one in place.

If you want to ensure that your finances, house and other assets are shared fairly on divorce then a prenup is for you.

  1. Why do people opt for a prenup?

Couples come to us for all kinds of reasons. They may be marrying for a second time and want to preserve certain assets for their children from previous relationships. They may likewise want to ensure that children from this second marriage will be treated fairly if the relationship breaks down.

Some of our clients are seeking to protect inherited wealth or savings built up before the marriage.

  1. Does a premarital agreement mean I can hide money from my fiancée?

We must stress that trying to hide assets is never acceptable. We urge all our clients to have full and frank discussions with their partners about finances before they sign a pre-nuptial arrangement.

Prenups can help protect every asset you own – you can also ring fence as much or as little as you like.  If you haven’t been open and transparent when you signed the agreement, then a court could throw it out should you and your partner divorce.

  1. Are prenups legally binding?

They are not currently legally binding in England and Wales, although the law may change. However, a carefully thought through agreement, drawn up with independent advice, is quite likely to be upheld by a court. Prenups are also more likely to be accepted by a divorce judge if they were agreed well in advance of a marriage – and if there is no implication that one party was coerced into signing.

  1. I’m remarrying and my fiancée and I both have children – do we need a premarital arrangement?

We would most definitely advise that you do. We sincerely hope that you and your partner have a long and lasting marriage, however when you both have children it would be sensible to ensure that they are provided for if you do divorce.

Failure to do this could result in your children from your first marriage receiving nothing. This is because your assets could automatically default to your most recent wife and to any children you have together. As your fiancée has children too, it is most certainly in her interests to draw up a prenup.

  1. When should I draw up such an arrangement?

The sooner the better – and at least 21 days before the wedding if you want to ensure that the prenup is as watertight as possible. An agreement signed just days before your marriage could be thrown out by a divorce court as a judge may consider that it was drawn up too hastily.

  1. How do I find out more?

You should contact a collaborative law firm such as Jones Myers – have a look at Resolution for lawyers in your area.

Your lawyer will encourage you and your partner to look at your finances and to consider how your married lives might pan out. For example, if you have children and one of you gives up work. Good planning and being well informed are key to a robust prenup.

For questions or concerns about prenuptial agreements, please call us on 0113 246 0055, leave us a comment below or drop us an e-mail.

You can also follow us on Twitter @helpwithdivorce