I read in the legal press recently that Family solicitors have reported a rise in the number of prenuptial agreements being drawn up using the collaborative law process. Prenuptial agreements have already risen in popularity since the Radmacher Court of Appeal case concluded last year that properly drafted prenuptial agreements should be upheld in family disputes unless there was a good reason not to do so.
Until recent years the general consensus had been that prenuptial agreements were only for the rich and famous. This is not the case as they can be used by both marrying couples and same sex couples entering into a civil partnership to clarify what is to happen in any future disputes over finances and children, whether those couples have considerable assets and income or not. When couples prepare for their future in this way they are not only relieving the possible future stress of resolving disputes, they are also ensuring the cost of resolving such disputes are kept to a minimum. It is of course far easier to agree with your spouse or civil partner how disputes are going to be resolved between you in the future when you are at the happiest time of your relationship just before the marriage or civil partnership rather than at a time when your relationship has broken down and emotions are running high.
It is good to hear the collaborative process is becoming a popular way for couples to agree the terms of their prenuptial agreements. Collaborative law brings together both couples along with their legal representatives to mutually agreed venues for meetings. Within those meetings all couples agree to remain committed to dealing with the issue collaboratively until they reach an agreement. They also agree to be open and upfront with each other, in particular in relation to their respective financial positions. The traditional method of agreeing the terms of a prenuptial agreement has been through solicitor’s correspondence in which each party meets with their solicitor in private. This method is oppositional, at a time when couples are more together than ever, their happiest and in love. For those that do not want to ruin the romantic mood, agreeing a prenuptial agreement by the collaborative method ensures that they reach the agreement together, in a non-confrontational way which should in turn ensure the marriage starts off on a better footing.
The added bonus to agreeing a prenuptial agreement by the collaborative process has got to be that in doing so surely the contents of prenuptial agreements are more likely to be upheld by the courts. It would be difficult for one party to argue they had been forced to agree the contents of a prenuptial agreement if they had participated in and attended several meetings in which the contents of the prenuptial agreement were reached. Hopefully we will have to wait a while before this theory is tested, as optimistically those who start marriage on a collaborative footing will hopefully continue to flourish in their relationship for many years to come.
Woolley & Co, Solicitors