Prenuptial Agreements: Once bitten, twice shy

It’s not very romantic. For this reason couples planning to cohabit or marry for the first time rarely whip out a carefully drafted document from a lawyer along with the ring. It’s pretty awkward. One would feel that they are suggesting that the relationship won’t work.

And do pre-nuptial agreements even carry weight in this country? We know that super-wealthy celebrities must have a pre-nuptial agreement. Of course they must, they have vast cash mountains sat in their monolithic mansions to protect. But what about us mere mortals?

Well, the fact is that pre-nuptial agreements are unromantic but may also be terribly important. They also now do carry weight in the UK courts. The case of Radmacher v Granatino 2010 provided new judicial authority on when and how a pre-nuptial agreement will be upheld.

In essence, when a pre-nuptial agreement is signed (at least) 28 days before the wedding, with both parties having provided full financial disclosure and then received independent legal advice on a reasonable agreement, it is likely to be upheld.

The majority of clients seeking advice about pre-nuptial agreements are those embarking on second (or third, fourth….) marriages. A person who has previously watched joint assets, lovingly and painstakingly accrued, divided into pieces regardless of contributions, is generally anxious to avoid that from happening again. That person often has assets, such as a property, from that marital breakdown and they have worked hard to start again. They often have children and want to protect their inheritance prospects.

Further, as people enter into middle-age (statistically the age-range for second marriages) they may inherit or have expectations of inheritance. They may have started a business which is doing well and want to protect it. It is for these reasons that the second-timer is likely to want to ensure that there is some financial predictability were the marriage to break down.
Broaching this subject with your beloved is never going to be easy. However, some people have reported that having that open discussion is helpful to the relationship. Wider discussions can be opened about how finances will be mingled once they are married and this is a healthy and sensible way to begin a (second or third) marriage.

And so, you may not be a super wealthy celebrity, but it may still be worthwhile considering your financial position before entering into marriage. Our experienced team will be pleased to talk with you about your situation and advise accordingly.