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Ask the Legal Expert: Value of Pre-nuptial Agreements

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I am happy to be getting married next year -  I have left it late in life, having dedicated myself to building a business portfolio.  I would always want to do the right thing by my husband, but if we were to split I would worry about the businesses – my life’s work - falling to his adult children, in time, since I have no relationship with them. Can we sign a pre-nup to prevent this happening?

Firstly, congratulations to you both on your upcoming wedding. It may feel a little unromantic to be talking about pre-nuptial agreements amid your wedding preparations, but even Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are likely to have had that conversation, amid the planning for their impressive marriage ceremony.

For people of high net worth, or simply for those who have assets they are keen to protect, it makes sense to do some forward planning, not least because it encourages both husband and wife to talk frankly about finances, which can help prevent any surprises further down the line.

A pre-nup is simply an agreement between the parties to an intended marriage that seeks to clearly regulate their financial affairs, in the event of a relationship breakdown. They are not, at the moment, legally binding in England and Wales. However, they can give a clear indication of the agreed wishes of both parties, as long as they meet certain criteria.

A pre-nup is likely to be persuasive as long as it is:

  • Procedurally and substantively fair - it cannot be obviously unfair to your partner and it must cater for the needs of any future children the two of you may have
  • Freely entered into and made by deed
  • Made at least 28 days before the wedding and preferably far in advance of it
  • Both parties must have received, at the time of the making of the agreement, full disclosure about the other party’s financial situation with each party’s assets and income schedules being annexed to the agreement
  • Both parties must have received legal advice during the drafting of the agreement, usually with certificates signed by the parties’ respective lawyers being annexed to the agreement

This is a complex area of law so is vital to seek advice from an experienced family lawyer before drafting a pre-nuptial agreement, to get the best chance of meeting the above criteria.

For further advice, please contact our specialist Family Solicitors in:

  • Swansea: 01792 773773
  • Cardiff: 02920 225472
  • Carmarthen: 01267 234022
  • Caerphilly: 02920 860628
  • Cowbridge: 01446 771742
  • Haverfordwest: 01437 764723
  • Fishguard: 01348 873671

The question posed is based upon a hypothetical situation.