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Pre-Nuptial Agreements: Not just for Hollywood Stars

View profile for Matthew Wells
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Matthew Wells, a solicitor in JCP's Family Law Team who specialises in divorce, financial disputes and cohabitation agreements, answers a question about Pre Nups....

I’m planning to get married at the end of next year. Without wanting to sound unromantic, I am a professional in my late thirties, I have my own house and savings which I have worked hard for. In the unlikely event that my marriage was to fail, it is important to me that I protect my assets. Can you tell me a bit more about Pre- Nuptial Agreements?

With an upcoming wedding this may seem like an awkward time to be thinking about potential legal complications in the event of a marriage breakdown. But making sound plans now about how to safeguard your livelihood will take away any unnecessary worry – so you are free to focus on your wedding plans! 

If you are eager to ring fence your assets from potentially being dragged into stressful and expensive divorce proceedings, it is advisable to enter into a pre-nuptial agreement – these aren’t just for Hollywood stars and music moguls. 

A pre-nup is an agreement between the parties to an intended marriage that seeks to clearly regulate their financial affairs, in the event of a relationship breakdown.

These agreements are not yet formally binding in England and Wales. However, as long as certain key criteria are met, a pre-nup is likely to be persuasive. 

It should be: 

•    Procedurally fair and substantively fair - it cannot be obviously unfair to your girlfriend and it must cater for the needs of any children in the future.
•    It must be freely entered into.
•    It must be made by deed.
•    The agreement should be 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 of information 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 at the time that the agreement was formed (usually with certificates signed by the parties’ respective lawyers being annexed to the agreement).

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

For more information please contact Matthew on matthew.wells@jcpsolicitors.co.uk or call: 01792 529 650

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