Are Prenuptial Agreements Legally Binding In the UK?
A prenuptial agreement (or prenup) is a legal agreement that a couple may choose to enter into prior to marriage. The agreement sets out how assets should be divided between a couple in the event of a divorce.
Whilst no one enters a marriage expecting it to end in separation, many couples choose to sign a prenuptial agreement in order to prevent uncertainty and stress in the event that the marriage does break down. It is also a useful tool prior to second marriages where, for example, there is a wish to protect assets for children of the first marriage.
With this in mind, one of the questions we often get asked regularly by clients who are considering getting a prenup is “Are prenuptial agreements legally binding in the UK?”.
Whilst prenuptial agreements are not currently legally binding according to UK law, the agreement will most likely be upheld by a court as long as it meets certain criteria.
Under what criteria are prenuptial agreements legally binding in the UK?
- The agreement must be entered into freely by both parties
- It must be realistic and fair to both parties
- The agreement must be contractually valid
- It must not prejudice any children
- It has to be made at least 28 days prior to the marriage
- Both parties must have received legal advice and understand the implications of the agreement
As you can see, when thinking about whether prenuptial agreements are legally binding in the UK, it’s important to emphasise that they must be made under the correct conditions. It is therefore advisable to always consult an experienced prenuptial agreement solicitor who will be able to arrange an agreement that is fair and realistic to both parties, whilst following all legal requirements.
Can the agreement be contested?
When arranged in line with legal guidelines, the prenuptial agreement should be upheld in court. As we’ve emphasised, there are certain criteria that the prenup must meet in order to be upheld. Naturally, this means the prenup can be contested if there is a legitimate reason. Reasons to contest could include the following:
- If children of the marriage are treated unfairly
- If both parties did not understand the implications of the agreement or it was signed under coercion or when one party was mentally ill
- If both parties assets were not declared accurately or in full
- If the prenup contains nonsensical requirements that could be seen to control or demean a spouse
- If the paperwork was filed incorrectly or drafted poorly
- If the couple did not seek proper legal representation
Although not exhaustive, this article shows that there can be a real benefit to having a prenuptial agreement, if it is drawn up professionally and meeting all necessary criteria.
If you have not entered into a prenup before your marriage, but wished you had, a post nuptial agreement can be prepared to protect assets. Again the rules outlined above would need to be adhered to, with both parties to the marriage being separately represented.
GA’s accredited family team has years of experience in arranging prenuptial agreements that are fair, realistic and beneficial to both parties. Please don’t hesitate to get in touch today for more advice on the process. Call 01752 203500 or email enquiries@GAsolicitors.com to see how we can help.