To pre-nup, or not to pre-nup?
Pre-marital agreements, also known as pre-nuptial agreements, are a form of contract into which a couple enters before marriage, attempting to agree how they will deal with their assets in the event of divorce.
For many years these agreements were largely ignored by the courts, but in recent years they have become increasingly influential in deciding how divorce assets are divided.
In 2014 Law Commission recommended that pre-marital agreements should be considered legally binding, although no steps have yet been taken to make that happen. In the meantime, the court still takes them into consideration.
According to a survey of 1,000 men and women across England, 10% of those surveyed now wish that they had insisted on having a pre-nuptial agreement. In the London area, the figure was nearly 20%.
The research, carried out by Liverpool firm Cassell Moore, found that of those who favoured a “pre-nup”, women were more likely to want one than men.
The main reason for not having a pre-nup was the other partner’s reluctance to agree, whilst other responses were that people were too nervous to ask, and that it was unromantic.
The South West of England had the lowest level of people who would have preferred to have a pre-nup, around 2.4%.
Ian Downing, partner in GA Solicitors’ family department, said that there was a clear rise in people aware of pre-nuptial agreements, and making enquiries about them: “Pre-nups can now be very effective in limiting the extent of a spouse’s claims on divorce. This is often particularly important to people who have already been through one divorce, and want to protect themselves, and their existing family, against the risk of another breakdown. The fact that women are more inclined to favour pre-nups is no surprise, as they often feel more vulnerable.”
According to the Office for National Statistics, 42 per cent of marriages in England and Wales end in divorce. It is also estimated that 34 per cent of marriages are expected to end in divorce by the 20th wedding anniversary.
“A well prepared pre-nup is not a quick or cheap fix, and it is not suitable for all situations” cautions Ian. “To be effective it has to be well researched, carefully negotiated and well drafted. You will only discover the flaws in your pre-nup at a later date if the court rejects it, so choosing on price alone is likely to be a false economy. However, properly used, it is a process that can have a significant effect on protecting assets.”
Speak to Ian or a member of the family team today by calling 01752 203500.