Why Mum and Dad might insist on a pre-nup when the kids get married

Despite their lack of formal legal status, pre-nuptial agreements continue to grow in popularity in the UK, fuelled by interest from a highly vested interest – the Bank of Mum and Dad.


premarital agreementAs house prices continue to rise, young couples are increasingly turning to their parents for help in putting down a deposit on their first home together. In turn, parents are increasingly looking for their children to draw up a pre-nup agreement that protects the parents’ investment in the event of the kid’s marriage breaking up.


It’s hardly surprising, given that the average house price is approaching £200,00 and most mortgage deals requiring a 25% deposit. What’s more, with predictions that house prices will rise by a staggering 17% over the next five years, the figures involved will only rise higher. Generous parents may therefore invest upwards of £50,000 into a house lived in by their offspring. However, once their child marries, both parties in the new marriage have a right to bring a claim against the property, regardless of who actually paid for it in the first place.

During any subsequent divorce proceedings a court can decide if each spouse is entitled to half the worth of the property, which leaves many parents worried that their investment will be halved at best, or indeed potentially lost if the other partner is awarded the marital home.

While pre-nuptial agreements are not enforceable as such, a court will usually take them into consideration during divorce proceedings provided that:

  • There has been mutual full financial disclosure
  • Each party has sought independent legal advice
  • There is no coercion involved or unreasonable pressure to sign

It’s also a wise strategy to ensure a reasonable period has elapsed between signing a pre-nup and the wedding (at least two months), as this prevents accusations of inadequate time to consult lawyers.

With a pre-nuptial agreement in place that details the financial contribution from the parents, a court can deem that the monies invested by the parents are not a matrimonial asset and therefore should not be divided as part of the settlement. It is by no means a guarantee, but if drawn up correctly by family law specialists such as ourselves, a pre-nup at least give a strong argument for the parents’ need to safeguard their investment.

If your child is getting married and you have monies invested in their property or other assets, call us to discuss how to set them up with a pre-nup. It may not be the most romantic of wedding gifts, but it may be the one that ensures lower blood pressures and fairer outcomes in the long term.