Rules of the Engagement - Your Guide to Pre and Post Nuptial Agreements

posted by KeithDaniel

What is a pre-nup?

A ‘pre-nup’, or pre-nuptial agreement, is a legal agreement entered into by a couple prior to their marriage. Usually, the agreement will set out how the couple intend to manage their financial affairs.

We didn’t get a pre-nup, but can we get a post-nup?

Nuptial agreements can be entered into before, or after, the marriage. In fact, an agreement entered into after the marriage can carry more weight (in the event of a dispute) as there is less risk of one party to the agreement feeling under pressure to sign.

Does that mean my intended doesn’t trust me?

Absolutely not. Nuptial agreements receive a lot of bad press but are a very useful means of  establishing your financial position during the marriage, as well as setting out the agreed arrangements should the relationship come to an end.

We’re not exactly rich, so why should we bother?

Nuptial agreements are not just for the top 1%. They can provide clarification in managing finances during the marriage (i.e. who pays what), protect what assets you do have, and make arrangements for inheritance and gifts from third parties, and are becoming increasingly common.

Does it cost a lot of money?

In all honestly, it depends. Parties can enter into a nuptial agreement from as little as £350 plus VAT; however, if your arrangement involves complex finances, across multiple jurisdictions, a more comprehensive agreement would be required.

When should we look at sorting one out?

If you wish to put in place a nuptial agreement prior to the wedding, this should be done as soon as possible (and ideally, three months prior to the wedding) to give you both time to discuss, and consider, the terms without pressure. Don’t do a ‘Mick Jagger’ and bring the pre-nup to the wedding!

I’ve heard pre-nups are not legally binding, so why should we bother?

In the event of a dispute, following the breakdown of the marriage, a judge will usually give effect to a ‘qualifying’ nuptial agreement unless in the prevailing circumstances it would not be fair to do so. 

What assets are included in a pre-nup?

You decide. That’s the great benefit of a nuptial agreement.

How do I know they are disclosing all relevant assets in a pre-nup?

You should each disclose details of all of assets when considering a nuptial agreement, with a schedule attached as an exhibit to the agreement. If one, or both, parties does not disclose all material information about their finances, it will not be a qualifying agreement.

Does a business set up with someone else need to be included in a pre-nup?

If either of you have a business this, along with any other ‘material’ assets, should be disclosed. It is for you to decide what goes in, and what stays out of the agreement, including whether to include/exclude any matters relating to the business.

Do we both have separate pre-nups, or is it just the ‘richer’ party who needs one?

There will be one document that covers both parties.

Can we DIY our pre-nup? 

It is a requirement of a qualifying nuptial agreement that both parties must have received legal advice at the time. These are complex documents and I would not recommend taking a DIY approach. 

If you required any further information or advice, please free to contact our team by email at family@berrysmith.com or by telephone on 02920 345511.