Prenuptial agreements are not currently enforceable under UK law.
However, in some recent cases heard by the Court of Appeal, the judges have been willing to take them into consideration when making a ruling - although they must still take into consideration all the other circumstances which should have a bearing on the ruling. In many cases, it's the division of the family assets that causes the most bitterness and recrimination when couples split up. A prenuptial agreement allows couples to discuss calmly, presumably whilst they are still in love, how they should split their assets if they themselves part.
Why do we need Prenuptial Agreements. Isn't marriage supposed to last until "death do us part"
Yes, in a perfect world, prenuptial agreements (also known as premarital agreements) would be superfluous. However, in the real world, 40% of marriages end in divorce. Scare stories of rich husbands being taken to the cleaners by grasping wives (and vice versa) have stopped some professional men from wanting to marry, being worried how much it will cost them if they split up from their wives to be.
Prenuptial agreements are common amongst celebrities for this very reason, and are enforceable across many states in the US.
What does a prenuptial agreement contain?
A standard prenuptial agreement states that the goods owned before marriage will remain the property of the respective partners after separation. It should also lay down what should happen to assets acquired during the marriage.
Independent advice should be sort on the agreement, and in particular it should be signed more than 21 days before the wedding, to demonstrate that the weaker party financially was not pressurised into signing at the last minute. One should be able to demonstrate that the agreement was not signed under duress.
What does the future hold?
Many people in the legal profession believe it is only a matter of time before prenuptial agreements become enforceable in England and Wales. However, this should be with safeguards to protect the financially weaker party and any children.
Future legal safeguards could include:
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