A prenup (more formally referred to as a prenuptial agreement) is a document that couples can sign prior to marriage which clarifies their respective financial rights and obligations.
An effective prenup in the UK will make provision for any property, debts, income, and assets that a couple have purchased together, have acquired individually, or have brought into the relationship.
Making suitable financial arrangements in the wake of a divorce can be complex and, in some cases, very contentious. Prenups help both parties in a relationship to establish their position in the event of break up and can limit costly litigation.
It is sensible for any couple who are getting married to consider whether they will need a prenup. This is something our expert family law solicitors will be able to provide tailored advice on.
Speak to our experienced prenup solicitors today
If you are considering a prenup, why not take advantage of a free 30-minute telephone appointment to talk through your situation with our team. We will explain your options and how we can help. You will find our prenuptial agreement solicitors are friendly, approachable, and knowledgeable.
What does a prenup do?
On paper, the definition of a prenup is relatively straightforward.
Once a couple are married, any assets that are brought into the relationship will be considered matrimonial. This means that, unless these assets are specifically protected, they will be placed into the same pot, and either party may be able to stake a claim to them during a divorce.
A prenup details exactly how these assets should be divided in the event of divorce. The primary purpose of this is to limit the potential for any combative and costly litigation proceedings over who gets what.
On a similar note, prenups can also be used to protect one spouse from being held liable for any debts incurred by the other.
The terms are tailored to each prenup, meaning there is no ‘one size fits all approach’. Each individual prenup will have its own unique set of provisions that are exclusive to the details of the relationship. A prenup can effectively protect anything the couple making it agrees to.
Equally, there are no strict rules on what cannot be included, but the courts will typically only consider items that are relevant to the final financial settlement.
How does a prenup work?
A prenup agreement is a document that will be reviewed and signed by both partners in a relationship before they are married. It should clearly state what arrangements should be made for specific assets and might also for example cover things like child or spousal maintenance.
The prenup will come into effect if a couple decides to divorce. As the terms have already been set, this should reduce the potential for any confusion or conflict.
Prenups are not strictly legally binding and do not carry the same weight as a court order. This means that prenups will not be automatically enforced by the court if there are any disagreements over its terms during divorce proceedings. However, the courts will take prenups seriously. If a disagreement over the terms of a prenup arise, the courts will assess various factors, such as:
- Whether both parties received independent legal advice
- Whether both parties understood the terms of the prenup
- If full financial disclosure was provided by both parties
- If the prenup is reasonable and fair
- There is no suggestion of duress, fraud or mistake
To make sure that a prenup fulfils these requirements, it is sensible to regularly review the terms of the prenup and make amendments in the form of a postnup (discussed below).
Prenups are also available for civil partnerships. The only difference is that it is referred to as a pre-civil partnership agreement, or pre-registration agreement.
Should I get a prenup?
There is a common misconception that prenups are only suitable for the rich and famous, or those with significant financial disparities. This could not be further from the truth. The reality is that prenups are appropriate for most couples particularly those with inherited assets, those with family businesses or who have acquired property or other assets with family help. Prenups are also useful where couples are marrying later in life or perhaps are entering into a second marriage and already have children.
While not the most romantic notion, prenups are extremely practical and can save plenty of potential disruption further down the line. Streamlining the divorce process and reducing any conflict will also prove beneficial if you have any children, as the interruption to their lives can be minimised.
The fees that apply for drawing up a prenup include the drafting of the agreement and advising on the terms and enforceability.
Talk to our team about drawing up a prenup today
Prices for drawing up a prenup with our expert family law solicitors normally start at around £2,000. To discuss your options, including what to do if your partner has drafted a prenup for you to review, get in touch with our expert family law solicitors.
How do I get a prenup?
The most important step to take if you are considering a prenup is to speak to a solicitor who has previous experience with these types of agreements.
You and your partner will both need to receive independent legal advice before signing a prenup. However, consulting a solicitor should be more than a simple formality. When speaking to our expert family law solicitors, we will be able to take an objective look at your situation and priorities, as well as those of your partner’s.
After considering a range of factors, including your existing assets, earning capacity and the needs of any children, we can then draft a bespoke prenup that can be reviewed and signed by your partner.
It is usually recommended that a prenup should be signed at least 28 days before the planned wedding date. This should be a sufficient amount of time for both parties to receive legal advice and ensure neither party feels forced into agreeing to terms that may not be in their best interests.
Can I write my own prenup?
We often hear from people who would like to know whether they can save time and money by drafting their own prenup, skipping any legal advice in the process.
The purpose of a prenup is to agree in advance of any future divorce how assets will be divided. If called upon to consider the terms in a prenup, the courts will assess the way they were drafted. A prenup will need to be drafted in a specific way to hold weight with the courts. Both parties receiving independent legal advice can make the difference between a prenup being upheld or disregarded by the court. In addition, by involving a solicitor, this will make it easier to prove to the court that other factors have been considered, including whether both parties disclosed all assets, and if either party was put under any duress at the time of signing the prenup.
A self-drafted prenup is unlikely to achieve the results you are looking for and could leave you with a false sense of security.
Can I get a prenup after marriage?
Yes, prenups are not only available to couples who are yet to get married. If you are already married, or in a civil partnership, it is possible to sign a postnup (postnuptial agreement).
Postnups work in much the same way as prenups. They are designed to regulate the financial arrangements that should be actioned in the event of a divorce or separation, with a similar process being followed when creating the document.
The only major difference between prenups and postnups is an obvious one. Prenups are drawn up before a marriage and postnups are drawn up after.
If you are married and already have a prenup in place, it will be in your best interests to regularly review its terms. If you wish to make any amendments, you will need to sign a new postnup.
Signing a new postnup will be particularly important if there have been any significant changes in your circumstances (or your partner’s circumstances) since the prenup was first signed.
Our prenup solicitors are here for you
For tailored advice on your situation and whether a prenup might be right for you, our team are here to help. We recognise that prenups can be a sensitive issue, so we will be on hand to provide clear guidance and straightforward advice that helps you to clearly understand your position.