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Pre-nup tips: how to avoid killing the romance

We asked the family-law experts for a briefing on what you need to know about prenuptial agreements now

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A Q&A with Marwa Hadi, associate solicitor at Rawlison Butler LLP

“Planning your wedding is an exciting and busy time,” says Marwa. “As ‘unromantic’ as a pre-nuptial agreement may seem at first, it is important to try to fit some time into your busy schedule to think about the financial implications of the marriage.” Here are her answers to our most burning pre-nup questions:

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Q: What’s behind the upsurge in pre-nups?
MH: People are getting married later in life and bringing in more assets with them. With women often being the main breadwinner in many couples now, we are also seeing an increase in women instructing us to draw these up.

Q: But isn’t it unromantic to ask?
MH: One of the biggest worries our clients have is that they don’t know how to raise such a delicate issue! You may find that it is something your fiancé also wants but has been to nervous to ask you about. It will protect him as much as it protects you. The important thing is to be open about it. In fact, drawing up a pre-nuptial agreement before tying the knot may create a more solid foundation for your marriage.

Q: Is a pre-nuptial agreement even binding?
MH: Unlike in many other countries, pre-nuptial agreements are not binding. However, they will be upheld by the court unless they fall outside the range of solutions that a court would regard as fair. Pre-nups are therefore very persuasive provided they are drawn up correctly. 

Q: What does it include?
MH: Usually, a pre-nup sets out what is to happen to any assets you bring into the marriage individually, what happens to any assets which you acquire during the marriage and whether things such as inheritance money, for example, are going to be treated differently.

Q: When should we get it?
MH: It should be signed by you both 28 days before the wedding. It is also important that you both get independent legal advice and also that you both disclose to each other your finances beforehand.

Follow Marwa on Twitter @marwahadi

Top tips from Charlotte Bradley, head of family law at Kingsley Napley LLP

The personal realities of negotiating pre-nup agreements can be a minefield.  Discussions can be tricky and emotionally charged before couples reach an agreement that works for both parties and gives them control of the financial outcome in the event of a split. 

Here are some top-tips to a achieving a stress-free pre-nup…

Full disclosure early on is important

Couples should share full details of their financial position with each other as early as possible and preferably before entering a lawyer’s office. It can come as a shock to discover just before the big day that your future spouse is worth millions.

Discuss future plans and ensure you have similar life aspirations and budget expectations

Pre-nups involve discussion about future spending commitments. Are you on the same page when it comes to having children, their education and where you will live? Talking openly and early will mean any difference in opinion can be made clear. 

Choose a time in advance of wedding planning stress

Negotiating a pre-nup and dealing with two sets of lawyers takes time and energy. So trying to fit in pre-nup negotiations between your wedding invitations and dress rehearsal isn’t ideal. Raise the concept of a pre-nup and negotiate well in advance of the wedding. This will also help avoid future allegations that one party signed under duress.

Ensure your relationship is fair and solid

Pre-nups can change relationship dynamics and alter perceptions if negotiations are not handled delicately. If one party finds out that they would not be entitled to a share of the other’s inherited wealth, they may feel undervalued. Be clear about what you’re seeking to achieve at the outset to avoid surprises.

Use lawyers as a buffer during negotiations if necessary

When negotiating a pre-nup, think about what you can probably agree between you, and which parts you might find using a lawyer helpful. Family solicitors who deal with pre-nups regularly understand the sensitivities and the unusual dynamics involved and will be able to guide you through pressure points.

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Read more from Charlotte at kingsleynapley.co.uk