If you were lucky enough to get engaged over the Christmas period you are no doubt putting in place arrangements for your wedding. One thing that you might want to add to the list of Things to Do, is entering into a pre nuptial agreement (or a “pre-nup“). In this blog, Family Law in Partnership director James Pirrie provides some useful tips for creating a good prenup.
First and foremost, make sure that your prenup is legally binding. Sadly there are challenging hurdles to create a binding agreement and those expecting a cheap or standardised process may generate an agreement that will actually make things worse.
So how do you do it well?
Start early. In theory if you have a decent period of time before the wedding (roughly 21 or 28 days) the agreement should not be struck down. The process takes time, so why leave it so late?
Be kind to yourselves. Ideally work out broadly what makes sense to you both in advance. If one of you presents a tough agreement a month before the wedding it is unlikely to be the best start to a lifelong relationship.
You may want to find (eg. through your lawyers) an appropriate counsellor or mediator to help you work out what you both think is fair.
Find lawyers who know what they are doing – you will each need a lawyer if you are trying to create a prenuptial agreement that is legally binding.
Find out from your lawyers at the start whether you actually need a prenup – if the law would do what you currently regard as fair then what are the benefits of entering into a prenup? Save yourself the expense of preparing for something that you expect will never happen particularly if the law will provide the same protection to you anyway.
Establish whether the agreement can be drawn up for a budget you can afford.You will need to settle the legal bills before the agreement is finalised and you won’t be given a quote until the lawyers know what you are trying to do (because that determines the time that is needed to get it right for you).
Find lawyers who are easy to talk to and who understand what you are trying to achieve.
Keep it simple – and make sure your lawyers understand this too. It is easy to get carried away trying to cover every possible scenario in minute detail.
Don’t overlook tax and financial planning and ideally get wills and life insurance in place at the same time.
Remember when it is done and you are married that it exists and make your financial decisions with this in mind during the marriage.
Recognise the limitations of these agreements. It is impossible to try to work out an outcome for every stage of the marriage. Consider, for example, providing for the agreement to expire after five years of marriage or if you have children. It is crucial to understand the implications of entering into a prenup.
Take a look at our prenup checklist which sets out the information you will need to think about when considering a prenup. For more information on our expertise in pre and post nuptial agreements and other relationship agreements, click here. At Family Law in Partnership our specialist family and divorce lawyers regularly advise on pre and post nups and other relationship agreements including those with an international element. If you have any questions, please contact one of our lawyers on:
T: +44 (0)20 7420 5000