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Wealth Protection and Nuptial Agreements

What Is A Nuptial Agreement?

A nuptial agreement is a legal contract between a couple that sets out the ownership of all of their  money, property and other assets and how their wealth should be divided between them in the event that their marriage or civil partnership were to break down. You can have a pre-nuptial agreement which is for couples planning to marry or enter into a civil partnership or a post-nuptial agreement which is entered into during the marriage or civil partnership.

Why Get A Nuptial Agreement?

A nuptial agreement can be put in place to provide a couple with peace of mind. Such agreements can be a sensible, fair, and transparent way for a couple to organise their finances. Couples who are entering into a long-term commitment of marriage or civil partnership are much more likely to be fair minded to each other.  This this means that if a couple entered into a nuptial agreement, they could avoid the costs of protracted and acrimonious court proceedings if their marriage or civil partnership broke down.

Who Are These Agreements For?

Such agreements are not just for the rich and famous. There any many reasons why it might be sensible for a couple to sign up to a nuptial agreement such as:

  • To protect inheritance or future inheritance.
  • To ensure that assets are reserved for children from a previous relationship 
  • To retain ownership of a business 
  • To ensure that any debt that is being brought into a marriage or civil partnership is not treated as a joint debt 
  • To ensure that any money gifted by the bank of “mum and dad” remains with the person whose family gifted the money 
  • To agree who keeps the family pet (sometimes called a “pet nuptial agreement”)

Is A Nuptial Agreement Recognised In This Country?

It is a common misconception that nuptial agreements are an expensive waste of time.  However, if they are drawn up properly and if they meet certain safeguards then such agreements will be upheld by the Court. The Court made this clear in the leading case on nuptial agreements known as Radmacher v Granatino. 

While a Court can uphold a nuptial agreement, if its contents are disputed, a Court would look at such an agreement very carefully.  The Court would want to ensure the nuptial agreement met the needs of both the husband and wife or both civil partners.  Where a nuptial agreement meets the needs of both husband and wife, or both civil partners, and if the couple entered into such nuptial  agreement freely and with the benefit of legal advice then it is very likely that the Court would direct that the separating couple must comply with the terms of their nuptial agreement.

How Is A Nuptial Agreement Created? 

To comply with the law, the nuptial agreement must be drawn up by a qualified solicitor.  The husband and wife or civil partners must have separate solicitors to represent their interests.  They must also disclose all details of their income and their capital to each other.  They must enter into the agreement freely and voluntarily and they must understand all the contents of the agreement. Ideally a pre-nuptial agreement should be signed at least 28 days before the date of the marriage or civil partnership.

Our Approach 

A pre-nuptial agreement is a technical and important document which must be drafted carefully. We have the expertise to advise you on the terms of such agreement (i.e. what you should and should not agree to) and the expertise to draw up the document.

The negotiations for nuptial agreements must be conducted with sensitivity so we undertake a collaborative approach with your husband, wife, or civil partner’s solicitor. We go through the agreement with you carefully and ensure that you understand all its contents before you sign up to such agreement. 

Our family law partner Saika Alam is accredited by the Law Society and is on the Advanced Family Law panel.

Take advantage of our free telephone enquiry to find out how we can support you through the complex process of signing up to a nuptial agreement. 

Some Examples Of Our Experience:

Drafting a prenuptial agreement for a young woman who had been gifted property by her parents and who stood to inherit their significant wealth in time.  Negotiations with her fiancé’s solicitors were lengthy and the agreement went through many drafts before both sides could sign up to it.

Representing a husband in his divorce proceedings after a very short marriage and having previously drafted a prenuptial agreement for him prior to his marriage. We successfully opposed the wife’s challenge to the prenuptial agreement.

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