Do You Need A Pre-Nuptial Agreement?

The pre-nuptial agreement is usually talked about when celebrities are getting married or splitting up and it makes sense for them to have all of their financial arrangements protected in case things don’t work out, as the pressures of a life in the public eye can often be a factor when these relationships break down. Pre-nuptial agreements are not just for the super wealthy, they can be useful for any couple who may have assets or property or who just want to make sure that they have the discussion about what their expectations are. There is a lot of information out there and an expert in this field, Eileen Pembridge, gave us some information about how to get the best advice.

“If you are getting married, now is the time to think ahead about the financial arrangements. It may sound unromantic, but if you want to be sure that both parties are fully protected then get a pre-nuptial agreement drawn up” commented Eileen, Senior Partner and Head of Family Law at Fisher Meredith LLP. She has over 40 years experience helping couples through the legal issues surrounding assets when getting married (and unfortunately when getting divorced too).

Eileen believes that a pre-nuptial agreement is particularly important if there are big differences between you in terms of wealth or age, or if it is a second marriage for one of you and you already have children. “It can be an unhappy start to a second marriage if a stepmother or father is perceived as the one likely to take all if a parent dies or there is a divorce “

For example, a client that Eileen helped recently was about to embark on her second marriage. She had three adult children from a long previous marriage. She had accumulated significant assets during the course of that marriage and wanted to ensure that her wealth would pass to her children in due course. Both parties signed an agreement setting out that in the event of the death of either party or breakdown of the marriage the pre-marriage assets of each would remain their sole property and assets acquired during the marriage would be divided equally.

In this way both parties and their children were protected. If you are planning to get married Eileen has some advice:

Each of you should take independent legal advice

Tell the other frankly about what you own and earn and expect to receive

Download and complete a Form E from http:\\hmctsformfinder.justice.gov.uk. Your solicitors will use this information to create a schedule for each of you respectively so that the ‘pre-marital assets’ can be ascertained, and thus readily ringfenced and distinguished from property jointly owned at the time of marriage or acquired subsequently

You will also want to ensure that you make a will to reflect what you are stating will happen in the event not only of divorce but of death

Ideally these should be drawn up and signed six months before the wedding. This helps to avoid what’s known as “late pressure” on (usually) a bride excitedly preparing for her big day or on the fiancé facing the prospect of withdrawing wedding invitations.

“If you do leave it too late for a measured discussion pre marriage, you can of course also encapsulate what you meant to arrange in a post –nuptial agreement. A pre-nuptial agreement may seem unromantic, but talking about it together and putting a clear agreement in place can save a lot of heartache later and can be considered the basis for a strong relationship built on transparency and communication. Pre-nuptials are now so common, and so important, that solicitors often go to Wedding Fairs to set up their stalls alongside those offering the flowers, the cake and the dress.”

Eileen Pembridge is a Senior Partner and Head of the Family Dept. at Fisher Meredith LLP, with over 40 years experience in Family Law matters and was a former chair of the Law Society’s Family Law committee. She set up Fisher Meredith nearly 36 years ago and now heads a large team of dedicated lawyers with a wide range of skills.

For more information: http://www.fishermeredith.co.uk/ or call 020 7091 2700

 

 

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2 Responses to “Do You Need A Pre-Nuptial Agreement?”

  1. tony says:

    If a party has 10-20m lf assets prior to marriage then it may well be worth doing this. If you have assets of less than a million then do not even think about doing this. We have just gone through a two months nightmare involving 3 sets of lawyers, huge fees and you have to recognise that both lawyers have to provide a certificate and they use this to basically hold you to hostage and print money. I have never come across so many stupid or pointless questions from intelligent people. Best advice. Dont bother. Get married and stay married.

  2. Kate says:

    Hi Tony, I suppose it is like a lot of things, there are always people who are looking to take advantage of a situation, but there are lots of reputable organisations who give a great service at a reasonable cost and without any hassle. Perhaps marriage should be harder to get in to and then people would not be thinking of what they would get out of a divorce before they have even taken their vows!

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