Prenuptial Agreement UK – What Is It & Are They Valid?

Table Of Contents

    What Is a Prenuptial Agreement?

    A prenuptial agreement is a legal contract signed by a couple before marriage that determines how the assets (property and financial responsibilities) would be split in the event of a divorce.

    It helps remove the ‘who gets what’ question that can often be decided by a Judge in lengthy court battles. This gives both parties certainty over their financial future should the marriage break down.

    In the UK, a prenuptial agreement can give couples a level of assurance against the possibility of divorce. A prenup can protect parties’ pre-marriage assets, family businesses, future inheritances, and even family commitments to children from previous relationships.

    A Prenup is designed to protect each person’s assets and financial interests should the marriage break down and in doing so, help couples avoid costly court battles over financial disputes.

    Are prenup agreements legally binding in the UK?

    In Scotland, prenuptial agreements are legally binding. However, in England and Wales, there is no law specifying that prenuptial agreements are legally binding.

    Despite years of campaigning for prenup agreements to gain legal recognition, courts still have the discretion to set aside your agreement.

    Recent cases have highlighted the court’s position on prenuptial agreements, making it clear that they are valid and will be upheld if challenged if all conditions are met.

    While prenuptial agreements are generally enforceable in England and Wales, they must be fair and take into account the financial needs of both parties and any children involved.

    In 2014, the Law Commission published its final report, Matrimonial Property, Needs and Agreements where they recommend introducing what they call ‘qualifying nuptial agreements’.

    For a prenuptial agreement to be legally binding it must:

    • Be a valid contract, meaning it needs to be entered into free of undue influence or misrepresentation;
    • Contain a statement signed by both parties confirming that they understand the agreement will partly remove the courts’ discretion to make financial orders;
    • Must not be made within 28 days immediately before the wedding or celebration of civil partnership.

    In addition to these conditions, at the time of making the prenup, each party must have received:

    • Full financial disclosure of material information about the other party’s financial circumstances;
    • and independent legal advice from a family law solicitor to understand your legal position and the implications of signing the agreement.

    How Much Does a Prenup Cost?

    The cost of a prenup can vary depending on the complexity of the agreement and the legal professionals involved.

    However, investing in a well-drafted agreement can potentially save significant legal costs in the future.

    Our Prenuptial Agreement Solicitors charge £799 including VAT. This is a fixed-fee service with no hidden or extra costs.

    Local solicitors charge upwards of £1500+ VAT. Family lawyers in London often charge in excess of £3,000.

    With our service, you don’t need to visit our offices or attend meetings. You can send us all the basic information we need via a simple online form.

    What can be included in a Nuptial Agreement?

    In the UK, nuptial agreements can cover various financial and practical aspects of a marriage.

    While they offer some flexibility, it’s essential that the agreements comply with UK law and remain fair to both parties.

    Here are some common elements that can be included in a prenuptial agreement:

    Common Elements
    Debts This can include credit card debt, student loans, and other types of debt that either spouse may have. The prenup should outline who will be responsible for paying off these debts after separation.
    Property Property clauses are very common in Prenups. Whether that is establishing what is to happen to the marital home or if one spouse wishes to keep a property they own separately.
    Maintenance Addressing spousal and children support including whether or not it will be settled and the amount of aid given is worth including in a prenup.
    Pensions What is to happen to any pension pots? Define within your agreement what happens to held pension pots upon separation.
    Inheritance If you or your spouse are due to inherit money, a clause can be inserted to ensure this stays with the desired party. Inheritance can also be left to children.
    Personal Property Art, jewelry, etc. Personal property or belongings can be kept with the owner and not shared with their husband or wife.
    Bank accounts Prenuptial agreements can address joint bank accounts and how these will be handled in case of separation. Parties can also use a nuptial agreement to protect their income or savings.
    Business interests A prenup can include provisions for the division of business assets and restrictions on the sale or transfer of those assets.

    A prenuptial agreement should cover financial matters only. If you cover anything outside of financial matters, a Judge may decide not to consider the prenup.

    This means that your prenuptial agreement should not include:

    • Decisions around child support or child custody
    • Lifestyle matters
    • Outlining domestic duties
    • Anything that prejudices the needs of a child of the family
    • Different financial outcomes based on the reason for divorce, e.g. adultery

    Can You Make Your Own Prenup Online In The UK?

    Technically, yes – you can find a free template online and insert your specific financial arrangements.

    However, this is not advised for a couple of reasons.

    1. If it comes to enforcing your prenup in court, a Judge is likely to question its validity.
    2. Both parties are required to receive professional legal advice, which is not included in a template.
    3. Only family law solicitors can draft the necessary legal terms and clauses required to make a sound legal contract.

    Read our article on writing your own prenup before attempting to do it yourself; It may save you time, stress, and a lot of money.

    Looking to enter into a prenup before marriage but don’t want to spend thousands on legal fees? View our online prenup service for £799.

    It can not only help you save money, but it’s also more convenient and efficient than instructing local solicitors.

    What is the difference between a prenuptial agreement and a postnuptial agreement?

    Prenups are entered into before a couple gets married or enters into a civil partnership. It outlines how their assets and finances will be divided in the event of a divorce or separation.

    On the other hand, a postnuptial agreement is a legal contract that couples enter into after they are already married or in a civil partnership.

    The main difference is that a postnup is entered into after the marriage has already taken place.

    Post-nuptial agreements can be used to address changes in financial circumstances, inheritances, or the desire to protect certain assets acquired during the marriage.

    How long before a wedding should a prenup be signed?

    A prenup should be signed and completed at least 28 days before the date of marriage.

    The court will be reluctant to uphold a prenup that was not signed well in advance of marriage.

    If you can’t sign a prenup before tying the knot, the better option might be to have a solicitor draft a postnup agreement after you’re legally married.

    The Benefits of Signing a Prenup

    Here are five specific scenarios when getting a prenup agreement drawn up could be beneficial:

    1. There is a disparity in wealth between the parties – It’s common for one party to want a prenuptial agreement if they are entering the marriage with considerably more wealth. Without a prenup, they would stand to lose more than the other spouse in the event of a divorce and a division of assets.
    2. There is a future inheritance for one party – Safeguarding a future inheritance is one of the most common reasons for wanting a prenup if one spouse is expecting to receive a future inheritance.
    3. One party has a business to protect – If one party to the marriage owns a business this can be seen as an asset that would form part of the ‘matrimonial pot’. Obtaining a prenup will enable the business owner to place it outside of the ‘pot’ and safeguard not only their interests but those of other stakeholders and employees.
    4. Pass assets to children from prior marriages – The agreement you reach can dictate the rights of children from a previous marriage regarding property or assets should the marriage break down. The most common clause in this respect is for property owned before marriage.
    5. Prevent debts from becoming jointly owned – If your partner brings debt with them into the marriage, you can include a debt clause in the contract. The agreement doesn’t just protect you against existing debt, it can also go some way to protecting against debt liability should either spouse build up debts during the marriage.

    Are prenuptial agreements valid in the UK?

    You may be asking yourself, is a prenup worth it if they aren’t automatically legally binding?

    To help answer this important question, we’re going to look at recent case law on prenups to help you understand what you must do to make your contract legally binding.

    The case of MN v AN (2023)

    In the recent case of MN v AN [2023] EWHC 613 (Fam), Mr Justice Moor delivered a judgment that reinforces the English court’s commitment to upholding valid prenuptial agreements. This landmark decision highlights the importance of carefully crafted prenuptial agreements, shedding light on the court’s approach when faced with challenges during divorce proceedings.

    The case of BN v MA (2013)

    In BN v MA (2013), the court held that the prenuptial agreement, which left the wife in a predicament of real need, was unfair and therefore should not be upheld.

    The case of Kremen v Agrest (2012)

    In the case of Kremen v Agrest (2012), the court refused to uphold a prenuptial agreement due to the husband’s failure to disclose his financial circumstances fully. This case underscores the importance of transparency and honesty in the drafting of prenuptial agreements.Moreover, the court will also consider whether the agreement is fair and meets the needs of the parties and any children involved.

    The case of V v V (2011)

    It’s also worth noting the case of V v V (2011), where the court held that the prenuptial agreement was not binding due to the lack of independent legal advice and the pressure under which the agreement was signed. This case highlights the importance of both parties receiving independent legal advice and entering into the agreement voluntarily.

    In conclusion, while prenuptial agreements are not automatically legally binding in England and Wales, the case law indicates that courts are increasingly willing to uphold them, provided they are entered into freely, with full financial disclosure and independent legal advice, and they are deemed fair at the time of the divorce.

    Prenuptial Agreement Example

    The couple, John and Jane, agree that any property they acquire during their marriage will be considered joint property.

    However, any property that they owned before the marriage will remain their individual property. The joint property will be divided equally between them.

    John is the owner of a successful business and wants to protect it in case of a divorce. The prenuptial agreement states that the business will remain John’s individual property and will not be subject to division in the event of a divorce.

    Jane has inherited a large sum of money from her parents and wants to ensure that it remains her individual property. The prenuptial agreement states that the inheritance will remain Jane’s individual property and will not be subject to division in the event of a divorce.

    The couple also agrees that any debts they acquire during their marriage will be considered joint debts. In the event of a divorce, the debts will be divided equally between them.

    Common Misconceptions and Myths

    One common misconception about prenuptial agreements is that they are only for the wealthy.

    While it is true that wealthy individuals may be more likely to have prenups, anyone can benefit from having one.

    Another misconception about prenuptial agreements is that they are inherently unromantic.

    While discussing finances may not be the most romantic topic, it is an important one to have before getting married.

    By having a prenup, both parties can feel more secure and confident in their financial future together.

    Prenuptial Agreement Myths to Stop Believing

    Summary, Advice & Next Steps…

    In summary, prenuptial agreements in England and Wales are a way for couples to outline their financial arrangements and protect their assets in the event of divorce or separation.

    If you’re still unsure whether entering into a prenup is a good choice, you can read our free PDF guide on prenups.

    Seeking independent legal advice, considering the unique financial circumstances of both parties and ensuring fairness in the agreement are key factors in their effectiveness.

    Most local family solicitors will charge over £1500 + VAT, which is £1000 higher than our transparent fee.

    Read more about our service by clicking the button below or speak to us on live chat for quick and reliable answers.

    Online Prenuptial Agreement Service – £799

    This service is ideal for couples who want to obtain a prenuptial agreement before marriage without spending thousands of pounds on lawyers’ fees. The agreement is drafted by qualified solicitors to your exact requirements. 

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