It is a common misconception that pre-nuptial agreements are only for the rich and famous. However in reality pre-nuptial agreements are becoming increasingly popular with couples from all walks of life who are preparing to marry.
A pre-nuptial agreement is a legal agreement between two individuals before their marriage has taken place. The agreement can help to protect assets accumulated before marriage and sets out how the couple wish their assets to be divided if they later separate or divorce.
Pre-nuptial agreements are not automatically legally binding however provided the agreement adheres to certain formalities they will carry significant weight and can be upheld by the courts.
A pre-nuptial agreement is important as once married assets are assumed to be joint. Therefore, in the event the breakdown of the marriage these assets would be shared.
A pre-nuptial agreement is a particularly good idea in the following circumstances:
- Where one party is wealthier than other
- Parties are bringing significant assets into the marriage
- Where either of the parties has children from a previous marriage and they want to protect wealth for those children.
- Where either party runs a business and wishes to ensure that it is protected
Traditionally pre-nuptial agreements have been viewed as unromantic and no one wishes to think about the end of their marriage before it has even begun. It is however preferable to reach an agreement when relations are good rather than trying to resolve financial matters at the end of the relationship when the parties are likely to hold animosity to one another. Having a pre-nuptial agreement in place is also likely to limit the scope of costly financial proceedings in the event of the breakdown of the marriage.
A pre-nuptial agreement should be viewed as a ‘marriage insurance policy’, which is not something that you plan to use but useful to have in place if the worst were to happen.