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Understanding prenuptial agreements and the protection of assets

Understanding prenuptial agreements and the protection of assets

What are prenuptial and postnuptial agreements? Are they legally binding? Wise words of advice and guidance from Lester Aldridge Solicitors


Couple taking selfie sitting on a wall outside a propertyIt is a joyous occasion when a couple get engaged and decide to get married or enter into a civil partnership. In recent years COVID-19 has caused many couples to have to delay their weddings and extend their engagement as a result, while they wait for their new wedding dates. On the flipside, many couples have become engaged during and after the lockdown periods and are also now preparing to get married.

While it is an exciting stage, the engagement period is still an important time to sit down and consider your finances and whether you have any assets to consider or protect. This article will look at what are prenuptial and postnuptial agreements, whether they are legally binding and how these can be used to protect assets in the future.

Prenuptial and postnuptial nuptial agreements

A prenuptial agreement is a contract between a couple before they enter into a marriage or civil partnership. The agreement details how the couple’s assets would be dealt with in the event of a divorce.

A postnuptial agreement is very similar. The main difference is that the couple enters into the agreement after they have married or entered into their civil partnership.

When to consider a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement

Any couple can consider obtaining a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement, however, they are particularly beneficial where there are significant assets to take into consideration.

Prenuptial and postnuptial agreements can be useful where someone has generated, or inherited, a significant amount of wealth before the marriage or may have a significant asset such a business that they want to protect.

This is because nuptial agreements can be used to ring-fence certain assets, acquired pre-marriage or received from a third party during the marriage, as “non-matrimonial property” which is not shared in a divorce.

If you, or someone you know, intend to gift a significant sum to a relative who is then planning to get married, then you may want to speak with the recipient about whether they have considered a prenuptial agreement.

We recognise that when planning a wedding or civil ceremony, a relationship breakdown might be the last thing that you would want to think about.

However, prenuptial and postnuptial agreements can provide peace of mind to a couple, particularly where one of the parties has been married before or where there is a disparity in wealth at the start of the marriage.

Potentially an even more important consideration for those entering into a second marriage

Prenuptial agreements are important considerations for inheritance planning as well for those entering into a second marriage, where they may have children and dependents from their previous marriage, and may want to arrange for their assets to remain available for their children rather than their new spouse (who may have their own assets) in the event of a divorce.

Sadly, marriages and civil partnerships do not always work out as anticipated, and nuptial agreements can be helpful planning tools, as a form of insurance policy, in case of future marriage breakdown. Even where there are no significant differences in wealth or assets held, nuptial agreements can help to limit post-separation legal costs as both parties have more certainty about what will happen in the event of a divorce.

Are they legally binding?

There have been lots of cases in recent years about the enforceability of nuptial agreements. Although not automatically enforceable, the Supreme Court has determined that nuptial agreements will be upheld if certain criteria are met and it would be fair to hold the parties to the agreement.

It is therefore very important for a couple to seek independent legal advice on both the terms of their agreement to ensure that it is drafted correctly and that it meets the requirements of a nuptial agreement.

Talk to our Family lawyers

Our Family lawyers at Lester Aldridge are able to advise you on matters such as the possible terms of a nuptial agreement including whether it is fair and appropriate, and on drafting bespoke agreements to record your and your fiancé’s intentions.

If you are planning to get married and require any assistance or advice on a prenuptial agreement, then please contact our team of family legal advisors on 01202 786153 to arrange for advice.

If you would like further information, please contact our specialist Family team by emailing This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or calling 01202 786153

This article was written by Emma Ritchie, pictured below.

 

Emma Ritchie solicitor with Lester Aldridge

Our experienced team at Lester Aldridge can provide you with advice as to your obligations, duties and the scope of your authority. Our solicitors can also assist you with applications for authority to the Court of Protection.

If you feel that you could benefit from any assistance, then please get in touch with us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call on 01202 702612.

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Lester Aldridge Solicitors are based in London, Southampton and Bournemouth - where the office covering the New Forest is situated conveniently close to the main Bournemouth train station. Their specialist teams in the various fields of law will be happy to advise and assist you, starting with a completely free initial consultation during which you can decide whether you feel able to trust them with your confidential information. Consultations are also available via virtual meetings : advice is available through phone, email, Skype and Zoom.

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