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Are pre-nuptial agreements only for the rich and famous?

I’ve been asked at various times this question which isn’t surprising as a lot of what we believe is based upon what we read or hear about in the media. Whilst they may have been just for the rich and famous they certainly aren’t now.

So what is a pre-nuptial agreement which are often referred to as “pre-nups”? If you are planning on marriage or a civil partnership you may wish to enter into an agreement which shows what will happen to your money and other financial assets if the marriage or civil partnership were to end.

They are not strictly binding on a court but if you were to divorce provided certain criteria are met they will be considered by a court very carefully and the terms respected. Essentially you and your partner entering into the marriage need to take separate independent legal advice, you need to disclose to each other your financial assets and the pre-nup should be entered into twenty-eight days before the big day. I’m often contacted just weeks before the wedding by those having last minute concerns and wanting an agreement. Often it is a little too late. It is essential that both parties want to enter into the agreement and one solicitor cannot act for both.

Pre-nups are especially useful to those entering into a second marriage perhaps in later life who wish to preserve equity they may have secured from a previous marriage, to safeguard their housing needs or if wishing to pass on their wealth to their family. Pre-nups can cover what would happen to debts, pensions, the family home, other property, money held in joint accounts, jointly acquired property, what maintenance may be payable on separation and deal with what events which may require the agreement to be reviewed and when.

They need to be carefully drafted to be effective and full consideration given to the needs of children as children are the courts first consideration in determining what will happen to your assets.

Like all things it’s important not to get anxious about what you might have heard about from friends or family or in the media; if you want or need legal advice consult an expert. Discussion over such agreements can and often do lead to strengthening a relationship. For clear and practical advice about your circumstances and to achieve peace of mind contact James Belderbos of Bird Belderbos & Mee on 01664 498 998.

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