The announcement that the Queen’s grandson Peter Phillips and his wife Autumn are to divorce has thrown the media spotlight on to pre-nuptial agreements.
It was widely reported that the separation is amicable with the couple agreeing to share custody of their two children. The apparent goodwill in their approach led to widespread speculation that the couple may have signed a pre-marital agreement outlining what should happen if they were to later separate.
The Daily Express said: “It is common for those with considerable assets to sign a pre-nup before they marry, protecting assets they owned prior to tying the knot.”
We shall probably never know for certain, but it is true that such agreements can help remove much of the stress and animosity that often occurs when couples separate.
Many people now draw up pre-nups, as they are commonly known, so their marriage is based on a solid financial foundation right from the start. They state how a couple’s assets should be divided if the marriage doesn’t work out.
Until recently, pre-nups were mostly associated with the rich and famous. However, they are now being drawn up by couples from all income groups.
They are particularly popular with people entering second marriages who want to safeguard their assets for their children from a previous relationship. People who have inherited money or perhaps been awarded compensation for an injury or employment claim are also using pre-nups to protect their interests.
These marital agreements are still not legally binding in the UK, but they are usually upheld by the courts if they are fair, and each partner agreed to them voluntarily after receiving legal advice.
One other possible reason for the increased interest in marital agreements is that people are becoming more pragmatic in their attitude to marriage.
There is a growing acceptance that relationships can break down and if that happens, a pre-nup can help reduce much of the stress and heartache of reaching a financial settlement that is fair to both sides.
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