These days, more and more couples are forming relationships later in life, either through cohabiting, marriage or civil partnership. This means that they are often established individuals who have already accrued property and other assets prior to their union. They could also have been involved in a company, business or partnership, possibly a family business. There is a need for all other participants to be protected, rather than left vulnerable if it is all torn apart as part of a divorce settlement. Such a situation can also lead to hardship through unemployment and loss of income.
It could be that you have already suffered financial loss after the breakdown of a previous relationship, and are fearful of losing further assets in the future; but have fallen in love or are seeking companionship making you feel caught between the devil and the deep blue sea. Maybe you already have children for whom you wish to protect your assets for the purpose of inheritance planning. A Pre Nup should not be seen as callous, unromantic, controlling or any of the other epithets that could spring to mind. I think it is a thoughtful and respectful way of dealing with your future. It encourages you, as a couple, to be open about your assets right from the outset. Money is the single biggest cause of disagreement between a committed couple. You are offering clarity, certainty and protection for those you care about both now and in the future, should your relationship, sadly, end. You are limiting the scope for long drawn-out, stressful, demanding and costly court proceedings. The deed that you enter into assists you in removing doubts and helping you to communicate with each other.
I suppose that one should also be aware that there are financial opportunists out there and certainly a Pre-Nup offers protection in these cases!
Pre-Nups are not legally binding in the UK, but are becoming very effective in the event of a dispute. The parties’ clear intentions are known. As the law has developed in this area, several guidelines have emerged which must be adhered to, in order for the agreement to be favourably considered:
- Each person must have given full disclosure of their finances.
- Each must have had independent legal advice.
- Is the agreement substantially fair?
- Has there been any fraud of misrepresentation?
- It must be a proper contractural agreement and drafted as a deed.
- It must be entered into at least 28 days before the ceremony.
It is a little more convoluted than the above, of course! Which is why it is vital to get proper legal advice to ensure your agreement is valid.
Well, now we’ve got over the Oscars – we must think of the Spring and romance! A Pre-Nup is not unromantic – just sensible!
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