‘Pre-nups’ are hot topic at the moment having been discussed on the BBC News this morning.

New laws could mean that pre and post-nuptial agreements could become legally binding. This means that couples would be able to legally agree their finances before they marry making it easier to deal if they were to separate in the future.

But isn’t that what happens now?

Well, no. Although many couples already enter into a pre or post nuptial agreement, these can be over turned by the courts.

What is a pre nuptial agreement?

This is an agreement made between two individuals before they marry. It will usually set out how couples wish their assets to be divided if they were to later separate or divorce.

What is a post nuptial agreement?

This is an agreement made between a married couple outlining how they would want their finances to be divided if they were to later separate or divorce.

What are the conditions to make the pre nuptial agreement legally binding?

• Both partners MUST seek independent legal advice

• Both partners MUST have disclosed all relevant information about their finances

• The agreement MUST be made at least 28 days before the wedding or civil partnership

• The agreement MUST contain a statement that the couple understand that the court will not have any discretion to make a financial order

• Both partners MUST NOT act fraudulently nor be unduly influenced into agreeing something that they do not feel comfortable with

What are the benefits?

• Makes the financial outcome of a separation more predictable

• Provides security so individuals know what position they will be in if their relationship was to unfortunately break down.

• Reduces the number of long expensive court battles

• Suitable for all individuals whether you have substantial assets or are of modest means

Things to remember:

Pre nuptial agreements may soon be legally binding however this is only after the needs of the couple and any children have been taken into account. Therefore although parties may be able to opt in or out of sharing, for example, the matrimonial home, they will not be able to opt out of providing for each others needs. It is consequently not possible to contract out of the courts jurisdiction to decide issues of maintenance payments.

And another thing….

Did you know that even if you are not married you could enter into a co-habitation agreement with your partner?

Contact our family department for more information and to book an appointment.