Are you hoping your wedding will land on that elusive sunny May weekend?
You’re far from alone. Spring is almost here again, the snow has melted and sunny days are once again within sight!
The season is one of growth, promise and renewal which makes it the perfect time for many couples to tie the knot.
As a result, March is often a time of frantic wedding planning, and with so much to decide - from the dress to the menu to the dreaded guest seating plan - the choices can feel unending. Yet buried amongst all these decisions you might also be wondering if discussing a prenuptial agreement is the right choice for you.
Marriage is based on trust and a strong belief in a shared future which can make it feel difficult to raise the idea of a prenuptial agreement. Yet feeling the need to discuss one doesn’t have to be a bad sign for your relationship, so if you’re considering it, relax and read on!
If your partner believes your desire for a prenup is a sign you don’t trust them, try explaining your perspective and then let them know if you’re receiving any pressure from your family. Your focus may not be mistrust in your relationship, rather your familial obligations and expectations.
The ability to communicate honestly and clearly is the sign of a strong and mature relationship. Talking about whether a prenuptial agreement is right for your marriage just means you and your partner can tackle awkward and difficult questions together and plan responsibly for the future.
It’s always better to communicate your fears rather than pushing them away and letting them grow!
That’s why we’ve prepared a quick overview of what a prenuptial agreement actually is, so you are well equipped to have a discussion with your husband or bride-to-be around the potential legal or financial ramifications of a future breakup.
What is a prenuptial agreement?
A prenuptial agreement or a ‘prenup’ as its commonly known is usually a signed document which specifies what rights each partner has over any income, property or assets, including those bought jointly and those which were brought individually into the marriage. This document will likely also specify how any outstanding debts will be handled if the marriage ends.
Such an agreement can end up being very important in the event of a breakup. This is because the default legal position under English family law is that all assets are considered matrimonial assets regardless of whether they were inherited by one party or acquired before a couple even met.
During divorce proceedings in which there is no pre-established prenuptial agreement, the court will divide all assets in whatever way it considers most fair at the time, without any consideration for who originally contributed the assets.
Are they legally binding?
While prenuptial agreements are not legally binding in the UK, they do indicate a strong statement of intent and a judge will usually adhere to the agreement’s terms unless there are strong reasons to disregard the document.
Examples of extenuating circumstances that might invalidate the document include evidence that either party signed the agreement under duress or without full knowledge of either the assets at stake or the document’s legal implications. The agreement might also be disregarded if it is considered likely to have a strong negative effect on the couple’s children, which is why it is important to regularly review any agreement made and update it as time goes on.
Why get one?
There are many reasons for entering into an agreement about how assets would be divided in the event of a divorce. It’s an unfortunate fact that almost half of all marriages in the UK end in divorce and while everyone hopes that they’ll be one of the many couples who defy this statistic, getting a discussion about the logistics of separation out of the way now can save couples a great deal of heartbreak later.
This is especially true if one party is coming into the marriage with significantly more assets than the other. It makes sense to have an agreement in place to make sure that everyone has communicated clearly their expectations.
A prenup doesn’t need to be about a lack of trust or favouring one partner at the expense of another but instead can be a smart discussion which can ensure fairness will prevail for everyone, regardless of how high emotions might run at a later stage
What are the next steps?
If you’re now considering having an open and honest conversation with your fiancé(e) about whether a prenup is the right choice for you both, you might be wondering what the next step would be.
It’s essential that you both receive independent legal advice to make sure that you understand the full legal implications that any agreement might have. One option is that both you and your partner hire a solicitor but that might feel like a bigger commitment than you really want at this stage, especially if you haven’t yet decided if a prenuptial agreement is for you.
A potential middle path is making use of LexSnap’s library of questions around prenuptial agreements which are all pre-prepared by top UK solicitors (https://www.lexsnap.com/pack/nc-new-pre-nupital-agreements). This way you can safely explore your options from a legal perspective without having to commit to the process from the outset. If you decide that such an agreement makes sense for your relationship, LexSnap can then match you both to a solicitor who is an expert in the field straight from their online marketplace.
Whichever next step you choose, half the battle is having a frank discussion about your hopes and fears for the marriage ahead and how you both envision the worst-case scenario in terms of a breakup, in the healthiest way possible. While this might not seem a romantic decision on the surface, the ability to have these kind of tough discussions is a great indicator of a strong relationship with a bright future.