Written agreements made between a couple prior to their marriage or civil partnership setting out their intentions regarding their finances and other arrangements during their marriage/ partnership and what should happen when one of them dies or if the relationship breaks down.
Traditionally a pre-nuptial agreement was entered into where there was a great difference in what each person was bringing to the marriage in terms of wealth. It was used as a shield against the possibility of someone (commonly termed a ‘gold digger’) marrying a very wealthy person with the intention of divorcing them later to obtain a share of their wealth.
Nowadays they are far more common. This is partly due to our evolving society. Many have been through an unsuccessful marriage and wish to have greater protection, or at least clearly stated intentions, this time around. Also people are marrying/forming a partnership later in life with more personal possessions and assets to protect.
Each pre-nuptial agreement should be carefully tailored to your individual circumstances. However, it is usual to include details of property and assets held at the time, how any future purchases or liabilities should be dealt with and what will happen if the relationship breaks down.
It is true that a court in England and Wales does not have to be bound by the terms of a pre-nuptial agreement: it is free to disregard its terms in whole or in part. However, providing it is properly prepared, the court will carefully consider the terms of any pre-nuptial agreement. In some case courts have attached a great deal of weight and emphasis on agreements. We can give you the best advice to help you achieve this should you need to rely on it in the future.
To make sure you have the best chance of the court adopting or closely following the terms of the pre-nuptial agreement it is essential that it is properly prepared and carefully worded to ensure your intentions are clear. There are many mistakes that can be made which would result in the agreement carrying no influence with the court at all.