How to make sure your pre-nuptial agreement is recognised by family courts

8th March 2015 by

 

As experienced pre-nuptial agreement solicitors in Brighton and London, the family law teams at Healys occasionally hear clients saying that they don’t believe pre-nuptial agreements are legal in the UK.

This is fundamentally wrong, because a pre-nup is essentially a financial contract between two parties which protects assets in the event of relationship breakdown or divorce.

The law allows parties to protect themselves in such ways, and, following several high-profile cases where terms of a marital property agreement were upheld, a properly drafted pre-nuptial agreement is likely to be taken into consideration by English and Welsh family courts subject to section 25 of the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973.

Some clients recognise that they are not necessarily legally binding, so for instance, if the terms of a pre-nup were to put one of the parties to the divorce or any dependants, at a financial disadvantage, or if one party was coerced into signing the agreement, then the court will not look favourably on the document and it will seek to make its own ruling as per section 25.

This is why it is absolutely essential to seek the advice of an expert family law solicitor to ensure that the agreement meets the strict criteria which will lead the court to deciding that it will rule in accordance with the pre-nup.

The court will retain complete discretion as to whether or not it applies the terms of a prenuptial agreement and each case will be scrutinised on an individual basis as per its specific circumstances.

To ensure a family court’s recognition of a pre-nuptial agreement, the couple must ensure that:

    • Both parties receive suitable guidance from independent legal advisors prior to signing any agreement

 

    • The pre-nup is finalised in a reasonable amount of time prior to the marriage or civil-partnership and there is no undue pressure placed on either party to sign the agreement

 

    • Full and frank disclosure of finances takes place prior to drafting of any agreement. This should include assets, liabilities, income, prospective income and pensions

 

  • The pre-nup is fair and representative – it does not leave either party or any dependents at a disadvantage

Where a couple’s situation has changed substantially after marriage, such as having children or increased earning capacity has created a significant earning differential between the spouses, or the marriage has been a very long one, a court is less likely to uphold the contents of an original pre-nuptial agreement.

However, couples can always re-draft their agreement during the lifetime of a marriage or civil-partnership and this is known as a post-nuptial agreement.

Pre-nuptial agreements in Brighton and London with Healys LLP

If you would like legal advice and guidance on the drawing up of a marital property agreement, Healys pre-nuptial agreement solicitors in Brighton and London can help.

We have many years’ experience in advising clients on the various pitfalls of divorce financial claims and we have the benefit of being part of a full service legal firm so are able to call upon the services of other solicitors experienced in many areas relating to wealth and finance.

If you wish to speak to a solicitor in Brighton please call 01273 685 888 or email an enquiry to family@healys.com

Alternatively the family law team in London can be reached on 020 7822 4000. We look forward to helping you.