Pre-nups: nice to have or pre-marital necessity?

The UK has seen an unprecedented rise in the number of couples drawing up pre-nups, especially since a landmark case in 2010 where a pre-nuptial agreement was upheld in court.


premarital agreementPre-nups are not legally binding in the UK at present, but they are recognised in UK courts. They are rapidly becoming a pre-wedding essential for couples wishing to protect their individual assets – and indeed their family assets – and to potentially avoid details of such assets being broadcast during any subsequent divorce proceedings.
In an article for The Financial Times, Jane Croft examined the current UK pre-nuptial agreement landscape, interviewing lawyers from across the UK for their insights into how and why couples are investing £5000 or more in drawing up a pre-nup. The top reasons included:


  • Protecting pre-existing wealth and earned assets when entering into a second marriage
  • Ring-fencing inherited wealth
  • Ensuring pre-existing assets are protected for children from a first marriage
  • Couples establishing an equal partnership from the outset
  • Asset protection on marriages that cross jurisdictions
  • The parents of one spouse insisting on a pre-nup to protect family money


Personalised pre-nup agreements

Pre-nups can be personalised to include who gets custody of family pets, or specified items such as pieces of jewellery, again to avoid conflict or costly court disputes. In the US, there is a rise on ‘social media pre-nups’ that specify that neither party can post information on social media if the marriage breaks down.


However, over-zealous or unreasonable clauses or conditions may cause a judge to lay the pre-nup aside, as would any evidence that one party had been coerced into signing, or that important financial details were withheld by one party.


Pre-nups: not just for the wealthy

While it’s the high-profile cases involving millions that attract attention, a pre-nup is just as worthwhile for couples with more modest incomes. With UK house prices creeping up again, a pre-nup that covers the marital home and its use/division after divorce could be a wise investment, for example. Equally, a pre-nup that doesn’t address the housing and income needs of the financially weaker spouse or priortise minor children might be vulnerable in court, the article suggests.


Not planning to get married?

Why not consider a ‘no-nup’, an agreement drawn up between cohabiting couple who do not wish to get married that defines distribution of assets in the event of a break-up.

For more information of creating a pre-nup, post-nup or no-nup, or help challenging an existing one, book a free 30 minute consultation with our team of family law experts at our discreet Hampshire law firm offices.