Do I need a Prenuptial Agreement?
Joanne Joyce from the Family Department of Lovedays Solicitors discusses the essence of Prenuptial Agreements
The nights getting lighter and the weekends getting warmer means that spring is in the air and the start of the wedding season is imminent. The ‘soon-to-be-weds’ engage merrily in preparations for the Special Day to make it as perfect as it possibly can be. Their thoughts are on love, family and the Shangri-La of a happy-ever-after life together. So, in the unbridled joy of the upcoming wedding day, nothing seems to say “I love you” less than mentioning a Prenuptial Agreement.
Many believe that a Prenuptial Agreement is a classic sign that someone is not committed to the marriage or, at the very least, not that optimistic about the success of the relationship. To mention such a thing is seen as an admission that the love between a couple is not forever: something which is a taboo on the lead up to the wedding day.
In any event, the Prenuptial Agreement is often perceived as a rather odd concept which Americans often do, or the reserve of the obscenely wealthy, who use it as a means of hanging on to their money. This is not the case. Prenuptial Agreements are very much present over here in England, and, whilst a prenuptial agreement has been used by the very rich to stay rich after divorce, it is by no means exclusively for that purpose.
There is perhaps a bit of mystery about what a Prenuptial Agreement is and what it does. A Prenuptial Agreement is only a plan which makes sensible provision for the way in which a relationship breakdown will be handled. It is a way of a couple putting in place the details of how any future break up will be dealt with.
Given that the divorce rate is so high, it may well be that couples might consider putting their minds to all aspects of their future, including a future which ends in divorce.
There are many benefits of making these formal arrangements in the form of a Prenuptial Agreement. They offer a means of managing how such important issues as the children and finances should be dealt with in the event of separation. There are several sound advantages, including:
By discussing these matters at the outset, before marriage, a couple is more likely to be on good terms and to be civil and thoughtful should a breakdown take place. It is more likely that they can easily come to agreement about how various matters will be dealt with. They are much more likely to be able to reach that agreement in an amicable manner and to think together about what might work for them both (and for any children they may have).
If one person has capital or assets when the couple get together, then that person may wish to ensure that they keep the benefit of that hard-earned capital or assets. In this day and age, there is no good reason why one person should benefit from the other’s hard work earnt before they even met. A Prenuptial Agreement allows provision to be made for this.
Often when a relationship breaks down it can be difficult to communicate. There can be hostility and confrontation. Having a planned and agreed strategy for what happens if the relationship breaks down can avoid the heartache and hassle of trying to sort things out at the point of breakdown when stress, fear, upset and anger may get in the way.
Having the agreement in place should speed up the process of affecting a separation, as the mechanism is already in place as to how matters will be dealt with. The intention is that the couple can start afresh sooner rather than later, thus avoiding the cost and emotional trauma of a divorce battle.
A Prenuptial Agreement is a legal contract which intends to alter the legal position in the event of a marriage breakdown. In order to be enforceable, it is necessary that the contract is entered into with both parties having full knowledge of each other’s finances and with the benefit of each having independent legal advice.
Whilst proposing a prenuptial agreement is far from romantic, it is nevertheless something which is prudent and wise. A wedding day can be far happier with the peace of mind of knowing that the legal side of what you sign up to on your wedding day is taken care of if things don’t quite work out happily ever after.
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