Second marriages and prenuptial agreements have been one of the most recent storylines of The Archers. Through the trials and tribulations in the relationship between Lillian and Justin the BBC radio show has cast its light on 21st century family life from the comfort of fictional Ambridge.
The question of whether Justin and Lilian need a prenuptial agreement is one on the minds of any Archers fan who also happens to be a divorce lawyer! I make no secret of the fact that I am a huge fan of the Radio 4 soap The Archers. Over the years, the script writers have dealt with some very serious topics not least the legal aspects of divorce and relationship breakdown.
The number of enquiries Woolley & Co receive about pre-nuptial agreements has risen sharply in the last 12 months. Maybe the message is getting through that understanding the full legal implications of your marriage and putting in place measures in case things don’t work out is a sensible part of wedding planning.
As a family lawyer, I am rarely involved at the start of a relationship when all is going well and people are considering moving in together. Instead, my involvement arises at the point the relationship is breaking down or has broken down. For clients who are not married, one of the first things I often have to do is obtain from the land registry a copy of the transfer deed they signed when they purchased the property. Unfortunately, this is when many people have an unpleasant surprise when I explain that this document is going to be of paramount importance in determining how much of the property they are entitled to receive now they are separating.
Engaged couples should be having a provocative bedtime chat before they walk down the aisle – about getting a prenup! I must admit I giggled when a colleague commented at the Woolley & Co Annual Conference in May that couples didn’t talk about legal issues before they get married because “there was nothing sexy about a prenup”. I’d never thought of the law – or chatting about it - as an aphrodisiac before.