Beginning a Relationship
If you are looking to start a relationship and require advice in relation to protecting your finances and arrangements our specialist solicitors can help you.
In addition to office meetings, we offer remote meetings by telephone or video conferencing if required.
The start of a relationship is always an exciting time and most people tend to ignore the legal implications or financial risks associated with formal and long-term relationships. We know that dealing with these matters at the outset of a relationship is not the most romantic proposition, but it can bring you reassurance and security for the future.
Whether you are entering a civil partnership or marriage with a good financial position or intending on moving in with your partner it is essential for you to consider what will happen if the relationship were to break down.
There are a variety of ways to protect your financial position in the event of a relationship breakdown.
Prenuptial and Postnuptial Agreements
A prenuptial agreement is a financial agreement between couples intending on entering into a civil partnership or marriage whereas a postnuptial agreement is a financial agreement reached during a civil partnership or marriage.
Both agreements set out in detail what will happen to assets and finances in the event of dissolution or divorce.
Despite the general thinking that such agreements are not enforceable in England & Wales, the legal position and court's assessment of such agreements has changed since 2000 and there is now significant case law that recognises the enforcement of prenuptial and postnuptial agreements.
Having a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement in place will help you avoid a bitter and costly dispute in the event of a dissolution, divorce or relationship breakdown and can bring reassurance to both parties and a quick and affordable settlement if the relationship breaks down.
In England & Wales, the number of unmarried and cohabiting couples has more than doubled from 1.5 million families in 1996 to 3.3 million in 2016. This represents a significant proportion of relationships in the country.
If you are in a cohabiting relationship you may not be aware that if your relationship broke down your financial and housing position may be severely impacted. Under English law, despite the common misconception, there is no such thing as a common-law marriage no matter the length of the relationship, and you may find yourself being unable to claim a right to the family home or other assets.
Obtaining legal advice about this at the outset of a relationship or when you start living together can save you both a lot of stress and complications if you separate.
A cohabitation agreement can help you both reach agreement about assets, finances, outgoings and general expectations during the relationship, and how things should be dealt with in the event of a separation.
What We Can Do
Given the complexities and importance of prenuptial, postnuptial and cohabitation agreements it is always essential to seek advice and representation from a qualified and accredited solicitor to ensure that you are fully aware of your rights and legal options.
We have extensive experience in dealing with these issues. We are members of Resolution and hold Law Society Family Law Advanced Panel Accreditation which demonstrates our knowledge, skill and expertise in this area of law.
Our Past Cases
Below are some Postnuptial and Prenuptial cases we conducted in the past:
Agreeing a postnuptial agreement between spouses after the husband inherited substantial wealth from his estate
Agreeing a prenuptial agreement between young fiancés prior to their marriage to protect each of their financial positions in the event of a divorce
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Frequently Asked Questions
What is a prenuptial agreement?
A prenuptial agreement is a formal contract/agreement between two people which is entered into prior to marriage or civil partnership. The prenuptial agreement sets out how finances and assets are to be divided if the marriage or civil partnership were to end.
What is a postnuptial agreement?
A postnuptial agreement is a formal contract/agreement between two people who have already got married or entered into a civil partnership. The postnuptial agreement sets out how finances and assets are to be divided in the event of a breakdown of the marriage or civil partnership.
What is the difference between a prenuptial and postnuptial agreement?
There is only one difference between prenuptial and postnuptial agreements and that is the date in which they are created and entered into. A prenuptial agreement is signed prior to marriage or civil partnership, whereas a postnuptial agreement is signed after the marriage or civil partnership has taken place.
Are prenuptial and postnuptial agreements legally binding in England and Wales?
Currently, prenuptial and postnuptial agreements are not legally binding in England and Wales. Although they are not legally binding, they are still taken into consideration by the court and can be persuasive and decisive when reaching a decision. This is only usually the case if certain requirements and safeguards have been met.
What will make a prenuptial agreement more likely to be enforceable?
Prenuptial agreements need to be made at least 28 days before the marriage or civil partnership takes place. Each party entering into the agreement should receive independent legal advice. Each party needs to make full and frank disclosure to the other and cannot hide assets. Neither party should be under pressure or duress to sign an agreement against their wishes. The prenuptial agreement must be fair and realistic. If the division of assets is weighted too heavily in favour of one party, it may be deemed to be an unfair agreement by the court.
What should my prenuptial agreement include?
A prenuptial agreement is a complex and bespoke legal document drawn up for you and your spouse/civil partner to be, so it is dependent on your circumstances as to what is included in the agreement. It can cover almost anything you want it to – the focus being on the finances.
When does a prenuptial agreement expire?
A prenuptial agreement technically does not ever expire, but there can be a specific clause in them to be reviewed after a certain event or period of time.
What is a cohabitation agreement?
A cohabitation agreement is a written, signed document between partners who are living together or are planning on doing so, often signed as a deed in front of witnesses. The agreement should ensure clarity and certainty about who owns (and owes) what at the time of the agreement, and in what proportions and also, what the financial arrangements are both during the course of the relationship and in the event that the relationship breaks down.
When should you get a cohabitation agreement?
A cohabitation agreement can be entered into at any time – this could be before you start living with a partner, or if you have been living with a partner for years. It can protect a person’s current and future property.
Why should I make a cohabitation agreement?
Unlike on divorce or dissolution, there are no particular rights that apply for cohabitees if they split up. A cohabitation agreement can mean that areas of potential dispute on separation are reduced or eliminated.
The process of drawing up a cohabitation agreement also gives couples the chance to think about how living together is going to work financially, which can limit arguments about money later down the line.