Each party to a marriage or civil partnership has the right to make claims in the event of a divorce or dissolution for financial relief. Some couples want to try to avoid the need for potentially costly and lengthy Court proceedings in the event of a relationship breakdown by entering into a pre-nuptial or pre-civil partnership agreement.
Many couples’ financial situations are complex, whether because they have been married before, have children from a previous relationship or have inherited wealth or wealth built up prior to the marriage.
Our specialist team of family lawyers, recommend by Tier 1 Legal 500 and including Resolution Accredited Specialists and members of the Law Society’s Family Panel have significant experience in drafting pre-nuptial and pre-civil partnership agreements to set out what the parties agree should happen to their finances in the event of a relationship breakdown. That may include division of property and maintenance provision.
Pre-nuptial or pre-civil partnership agreements cannot, as the law currently stands, prevent either party making an application to the court in future proceedings. However, they are a factor the court can consider and are increasingly being upheld by the courts, provided they are fair.
The pre-nuptial or pre-civil partnership agreements act as an insurance policy to provide peace of mind and security.
Here at Pinney Talfourd, our family lawyers recommend that the following factors should be present in a pre-nuptial or pre-civil partnership agreement in order to have the best chance of it being upheld in any future proceedings:
Both parties take independent legal advice
The agreement was entered into at least 21 days before the wedding
No pressure applied to either party to enter into the agreement
Full disclosure of the parties’ respective financial positions with documentary evidence provided
Provision made for any children of the family born either prior to or during the marriage
The terms of the agreement are fair
Prenuptial / Pre-Civil Agreements FAQs
We recommend that agreements are reviewed regularly and at least every five years. It is also important to review such agreements when there are significant changes within the relationship such as the birth of a child, loss of employment, or major change in assets. Following a review, the parties may enter into a postnuptial / post-civil partnership agreement to reflect the changes in circumstances should they choose to do so.
It is a good practice that both parties have independent legal advice on the agreement from a solicitor that has expertise in advising clients on family law and in relation to prenuptial / civil partnership agreements. Solicitors can provide advice with regard to the draft agreement, on its meaning and effect under the law of England and Wales.
We would advise that discussions take place as soon as possible if such an agreement is to be considered to allow both parties sufficient time to seek independent legal advice. The agreement should be entered into well in advance of the date of the marriage / civil partnership, and in any event, it should be entered into at least 28 days before the date. The agreement will not be void if it is entered into shortly before the date, but the court may place less reliance on it if it is. These agreements can take a number of months to prepare and agree.
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