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A Pre-Nup Can Be A Smart Move For Professional Athletes, Business-Owners and Others

View profile for Jill Bulteel
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Pre-nuptial agreements are becoming more common in the UK – they are certainly not just for movie stars or tech billionaires. Many people opt to sign a pre-nup, for example, if they run a business with their partner and they want to protect it in the event of a marital split. Young professional athletes should also consider advice about whether a pre-nup can protect their career and earnings should their marriage falter.

As a society, we are moving away from the idea that pre-nups are unromantic and cynical and instead we are recognising that a pre-nup can bring an added sense of security and stability to all parties. A pre-nup is an agreement between the adults in an intended marriage that seeks to clearly regulate their financial affairs, in the event of a relationship breakdown. As long as the agreement you reach is fair to both parties, it can be used to help ring-fence certain assets from potentially being dragged into divorce proceedings as a matrimonial asset.

In the case of an athlete, there are interesting scenarios they should consider. Sadly, studies suggest that the divorce rate amongst professional athletes is higher than that of the general public. Research indicates that a third of players will be divorced within a year of the end of their professional football career, for example. Athletes have added pressures that most of us do not have to deal with, like spending long periods away from their partners, dealing with sudden fame and wealth, unwanted media or fan attention, or the pressure to perform. When the structure of their career comes to an end this can destabilise a relationship. Sound legal advice is essential for a sportsperson who wants to protect earnings they have generated – particularly if their next career move is uncertain.

Crucially, pre-nuptial agreements can also incorporate non-disclosure clauses to set ground rules regarding things like media exposés and social media. A couple might, for example, agree not to publish photographs of their children via these channels. These agreements are not yet formally binding in England and Wales. However, as long as certain key criteria are met, pre-nups are increasingly persuasive. They should be:

  • Procedurally and substantively fair – it cannot be obviously unfair to your partner and it must cater to the needs of any future children
  • 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, so you have the best chance of meeting the above criteria. Call a member of the Family team today on 03333208644 or email