Wedding delays and pre-nuptial agreements – making the best of a bad situation

Postponing your wedding date is understandably a very disappointing situation to find yourself in. As an unexpected result of the current Covid-19 pandemic, many couples have faced the disappointing decision to re-arrange their nuptials.

It's difficult to find silver linings in these circumstances – even just the sheer amount of work that goes into planning a wedding makes postponement a difficult pill to swallow.

Nevertheless, one of the few benefits of postponing a wedding is having more time – time to manage all the smaller details which otherwise would have been lost or forgotten about in the rush to get to the big day.

One such detail is a pre-nuptial agreement or 'prenup'. A common document in the US, pre-nuptial agreements are more unusual but rising in popularity in the UK

It may feel unromantic – and let's be honest, in some ways it is – but a pre-nuptial agreement has its uses and getting one doesn't mean you think you'll get divorced one day. Indeed, couples often come to us seeking pre-nuptial agreements not for their own peace of mind, but for that of others.

For instance, it's common for couples today to receive funds from the Bank of Mum and Dad to help buy a house. Parents gifting or lending a couple money may only be willing to do so if it is protected in a pre-nuptial agreement.

It's also common for marrying couples of a certain age to have adult children from previous relationships. In those cases, a pre-nuptial agreement that protects those children's inheritance or family home could help allay any worries they may have about welcoming a new person into the family.

Below, I have laid out some common questions and answers about pre-nuptial agreements. I hope that this article helps couples understand how a pre-nuptial agreement could help them for the future. Everyone has their own reasons for entering into a pre-nuptial agreement and just because you may want to enter into one, it does not mean you are likely to get divorced.

What is a pre-nuptial agreement?

A pre-nuptial agreement is an agreement that a couple planning to marry enter into that shows what they intend to happen to their money and property if their marriage or civil partnership were to end.

Why do I need a pre-nuptial agreement?

When you marry, your financial positions change and there are claims against one another that are possible in the event of divorce.

It can also assist in the future should couples find themselves separating to avoid unnecessary conflict because the pre-nuptial agreement already sets out the agreed arrangement.

Some examples of how it may assist individuals are as follows:-

  • One or both or you may wish to protect assets you owned prior to the marriage, for example, inheritances or family trusts
  • One of you may have greater capital or income than the other
  • One or both of you have been married before or may have children from a previous relationship and you wish to protect assets for them for the purpose of inheritance planning
  • It would be beneficial to define what is considered to be a marital asset or not, for example, if you would like to best protect your business if owned prior to the marriage

Are pre-nuptial agreements binding?

In the jurisdiction of England & Wales pre-nuptial agreements are considered to be decisive in the event of a dispute but this is heavily dependent on what the agreement says and how it was entered into. You will not be able to enter into a pre-nuptial agreement without the assistance of a solicitor.

To improve the prospect that the court will not consider an agreement to be unfair there are protocols to follow, one being that you took independent legal advice.

When should I get advice about a pre-nuptial agreement and when does it need to be done?

It is good practice to finalise the agreement in plenty of time before a wedding as there is a process to preparing the agreement in accordance with the guidance to ensure the protocols are followed. We would recommend getting in touch as soon as possible when you start thinking of your wedding date. The agreement itself must be signed at least 21 days prior to the ceremony but there can be a period of drafting and negotiation prior to this which takes more time.

Can you help me draft a pre-nuptial agreement?

If you would like to find out more information, please do not hesitate to contact me on [email protected] for an information discussion about how a pre-nuptial agreement may help you.