Pre Nuptial Agreements

Getting married can be a stressful business. There’s the dress, the photographer, the limousine, the church, the choice of best man, the hen and stag night/weekend/week, the flowers, suit hire, choice of music, wedding breakfast, evening reception, and honeymoon.  Then there’s the worrying about how it’s all going to be paid for.

It is perhaps not surprising that often people who want a pre-nuptial agreement seem to think about them with a month or so to go before the big day.

Pre-nuptial agreements have been growing in popularity, matched only by the recognition given to them by the court in divorce proceedings.

Whilst they are still not absolutely binding, they will, if done properly, be followed wholly or substantially by the courts.

There are 2 common pitfalls that the unwary fall in to:

  1. They must not seem like last minute rush jobs.  The court will want to know that neither party has been placed under undue pressure to agree the settlement.  A last minute agreement gives the impression of undue pressure, and can invalidate the whole agreement.  Agreeing at the time of engagement that both spouses to be want the agreement is ideal.  Both will have enough time properly to consider what they want it to contain, and to take independent legal advice upon it.
  2. It is not an opportunity for the spouse with the greater financial resources to make sure that the other leaves the marriage with nothing.  The agreement is an opportunity to agree in advance what would be reasonable financial provision in the event of divorce.  Any agreement that is clearly unfair to one party may not be upheld by the court.

It is therefore vital to consider a pre-nuptial agreement early if you want it to carry weight in any future court proceedings.

Andrew Lee is a senior associate solicitor at Gregory Abrams Davidson, and a member of the Advanced Family Law Panel of the Law Society. He can be contacted on 0151 236 5000 or at alee@gadllp.co.uk