The excitement over planning a wedding can take over the whole family, but prudent brides, grooms and their families should not overlook the financial implications of their future nuptials.
Making a prenuptial agreement before you get married can take away some of the financial worry about what will happen to your assets and property if your marriage does not work out.
Here are our top tips for what to include in your prenuptial agreement:
As a married couple any property or land you own, even if it is in one person’s sole name, can be redistributed by the court in the financial settlement of a divorce. By making a prenuptial agreement you can agree whether you will each be entitled to keep your own property and how any jointly owned property, such as your home or a holiday property, will be treated on divorce or separation.
Making a prenuptial agreement will give you the opportunity to discuss whether to ring fence your business, which is especially important if you have acquired it through family succession. If you are going to give your spouse an interest in the business you can set out how shares will be divided.
Your pension pot can reflect your future security and your retirement plans. If you are marrying later in life, or for a second time, you may not be willing to risk losing a substantial portion of your pension through pension sharing in a divorce settlement.
Inherited wealth and treasured family heirlooms are often a very sensitive issue on divorce, especially if they are likely to fall into the hands of your spouse. You can take steps to prevent this by including express provisions in your prenuptial agreement.
You may have each acquired numerous personal possessions before you got married that you may want to keep hold of if you split up. Added to this, there may be expensive wedding presents and jointly owned purchases during the course of the marriage. With a little thought from the outset you can save a lot of acrimony, and lawyers’ fees, by agreeing how these assets should be divided if the marriage does not last.
Savings, debts and bills
Your prenuptial agreement should include your respective entitlement to cash savings, policies and investments and responsibility for jointly accrued debts.
You can even specify your arrangements for paying the household bills, whether they are to be shared equally or one of you is to pay them all.
Where there is an inequality in income between you, it may be appropriate to decide whether any maintenance will be paid to your spouse if the marriage breaks down.
You may want to decide and record in your prenuptial agreement your intentions for what you would like to happen if one of you dies. Will the other person be entitled to continue to live in the house? What should happen to your business interests, assets and personal possessions?
If either of you already has a child from a previous relationship, your prenuptial agreement will need to include them and make reasonable financial provisions for them too in the event of a divorce. You will also need to ensure that provision is included in the event that you have a child together (see review below).
You will need to decide what events, if any, will affect the validity or require a formal review of your prenuptial agreement and if it should be revised. This may be the birth of a child, illness, redundancy or simply a lapse in time.
Negotiating your prenuptial agreement
Engaging the skills of a trained and qualified solicitor can be a particularly effective way of negotiating the terms of your prenuptial agreement. Your chosen solicitor will help you to address the key issues and focus on achieving an agreed outcome.
You should both obtain to independent legal advice from expert solicitors, such as those within our team, to ensure that you fully understand the terms of the agreement before signing.
Your solicitors will also need to sign a form to confirm they have provided you with legal advice - this will assist in making the agreement as binding as possible.
If you would like more information or advice about the issues raised in this article, or any aspect of family law please contact our expert legal team on 0208 004 0065, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or using the form below.
The contents of this article is general information only. The information in this article is not legal or professional advice. The law may have changed since this article was published. Readers should not act on the basis of the information included and should obtain independent expert advice from qualified solicitors such as those within our firm.