The engagement of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle

posted by GRichardson

With the recent announcement of their engagement, and with the wedding set for May 2018, lots of changes have been taking place.

Meghan Markle has quit her job on Suits, moved to London and will even be baptised shortly into the Church of England before tying the knot next year.

One has to wonder whether they will also be considering a Prenuptial Agreement to protect the royal purse or indeed Meghan’s estimated net worth of $5m. (Wealthy Gorilla 2017).

Whilst not yet formally binding in this country, Prenuptial Agreements are becoming increasingly fashionable and acceptable within the courts, when considering issues of fairness and justice and provided that entered into freely, with appropriate disclosure given and advice received, are often held binding.

If you are thinking about tying the knot yourself, particularly if this is a second marriage and you have children that you wish to protect from your first marriage, you may wish to give serious consideration to such an agreement. The advantages are as follows:-

  • Clarity. You can make it clear to one another that certain property belongs to you alone and will not be shared in the event of a divorce. Such property is often referred to by family lawyers as "non-matrimonial property". The definition of non-matrimonial property is unclear in case law, but can be clearly defined in the post nuptial agreement, so that you are each aware of the extent of each other's non-matrimonial property and the value of any property you are giving up the rights to share.
  • Certainty. You can each agree how your finances will be divided if you later separate or divorce. This should save you both the uncertainty, time and stress of litigating about your finances if you do later separate or divorce.
  • Transparency. You should each provide financial disclosure of your assets and income in the post nuptial agreement, so you will both be aware of the value of each other's assets, which will assist you in your negotiations.
  • Protection of assets. You can each protect assets you may wish to "ringfence" from one another, such as inherited assets, family heirlooms an interest in a family business, gifts received from a third party, or property acquired before your marriage.
  • Debt protection. If your Wife has significant debts, either now or in the future, the post nuptial agreement can be used to protect your assets from being used to satisfy those debts. (This will also be the case with any debts you may have now or in the future.)
  • Protection of family members. Where either of you have a child/children from a previous relationship/marriage]. A post nuptial agreement can protect the financial interests of children from a previous relationship/marriage by ensuring certain assets are ringfenced for them in the agreement.
  • Improves communication. Discussing financial issues can be one of the most difficult aspects of marriage. Dealing with this now may strengthen your relationship.
  • Protection of business partners. Where there is an interest in a family or small private business, a post nuptial agreement can protect that interest and prevent disruption to the business if the marriage breaks down in the future. This could prevent a situation whereby your spouse is awarded an interest in the business and has to participate in its running with family members or business partners.

Please contact us if you would like more information about the issues raised in this article or any aspect of family law at family@berrysmith.com or 01656 645525.

Katie McColgan

Partner, Family at Berry Smith Lawyers