Pre Nuptial Agreements

Pre-nuptial agreements were once viewed as the preserve of the rich and famous. Celebrity couples view it as standard practice to enter in to these agreements to safeguard the wealth they have already acquired in case the marriage should breakdown. Pre-nuptial agreements are not legally binding in the U.K. but the recent Supreme Court decision in Radmacher v Gratanio, has led to an increase in the number of pre-marriage couples wishing to protect their assets. The Supreme Court in this case decided that unless a pre-nuptial agreement is unfair it will be considered binding.

At MKB Law Family and Matrimonial Department we advise couples who are contemplating marriage as to how they can enter in to a written formal agreement which sets out a plan of what will happen to their assets in the event of a divorce. These agreements should not be rushed in to. A list of the assets of each party must be drawn up and formal proof of those assets must be exchanged.

At MKB Law we advise for example in cases of a second marriage where the husband or wife’s aim is to protect assets they have been awarded or settled on in their divorce. Pre-nuptial agreements are also becoming increasingly used in cases of family businesses where the husband to be or wife to be has an interest in the business and has shareholdings and wants to avoid the damaging possibility of a restructuring of the business in order to accommodate a divorce settlement.

By ruling that the contracts are legally binding, the Supreme Court has altered the landscape of divorce settlements. It will now only be a matter of time before the Law Commission recommends that the legislation is changed.

At MKB Law we will advise as to what should be in the terms of the agreement. It is imperative that certain minimum safeguards are met to give a pre-nuptial agreement the best possible chance of success. The guidelines are as follows:

Provision must be made for children

Both parties should have taken independent legal advice

The agreement must not be profoundly unjust

Full financial Disclosure must have been made

The Agreement must have been drawn up at least 21 days prior to the marriage

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