Having THAT prenup conversation
Prenuptial agreements have a bad reputation, unfairly so. As such, approaching the topic with a spouse may seem daunting or a potential cause for arguments. However, having the conversation may well set the foundation for an open and healthy marriage.
Why should I risk having THAT conversation?
Everybody needs one. Nobody goes into a marriage thinking the worst, just as nobody buys a new car thinking it will be broken in to. However, life is unpredictable. Consider a prenup as an insurance. It is a written agreement between two parties, entered into prior to marriage. It sets out the ownership of both parties’ assets and belongings and explains how they will be divided in the event of a marital breakdown. We ask our clients, would they rather discuss and set this out with their spouse, or risk leaving this for the courts to decide?
Entering into discussions regarding each other’s finances and assets means both parties will be required to disclose to each other details of their assets, debts, and income avenues. Being aware of each other’s finances at such an early stage not only avoids any surprises, but encourages open and honest communication throughout the marriage, and ensures both parties discuss important finances.
Is it legally binding in the UK?
A prenup must be fair to both parties in order to be considered enforceable. Courts recognise the enforceability of prenups, but still withhold the right to waive any agreement particularly if they deem it unfair to any children of the marriage.
Although prenups are now becoming part and parcel of our work as family lawyers, the law in this area is changing constantly. As a result, the law surrounding prenups may change.
We advise entering into a prenup at least 21 days prior to the wedding, in order to avoid any claims of the agreement being signed “under duress”.
How do I bring up the subject?
Planning ahead is always a good idea. Try to raise the subject when you are both in good spirits, and bear in mind you may have to keep re-approaching the subject and allow your spouse time to digest the information.
We suggest giving yourself several months prior to the wedding, allowing yourself time to negotiate the terms and enough time to draft the agreement.
Discussing your own financial expectations and what you do and do not want to share is important. Openness and honesty is key and will set the tone for the rest of the marriage. At this point it is better not to press for minute details and signatures but discuss in broad terms and allow your lawyer to prepare the initial draft.
Remember, each of you must receive independent legal advice.
Can I do it after I get married?
Although we advise signing a prenup before getting married, a postnuptial agreement is a possibility. A postnup will afford you the same financial protection as a prenup, the only difference lying in the fact that it has been entered into after marriage.