Pre-nups not just for celebs

18.11.2010

It might not be at the top of the list when preparing for married life, but pre-nuptial agreements are now becoming the norm.

A prenuptial agreement, also known as a “pre-nup” is a formal contract a couple makes prior to marriage in which both parties agree how, in the event of divorce, their assets should be divided.

Once seen as being only of relevance to celebrity couples, a recent ruling by the Supreme Court means that pre-nups could (and perhaps should) be used.

Anyone can enter into a pre-nup, but they are most common for people with substantial wealth, where one of more of the parties has children from prior marriages or one partner is significantly wealthier than the other.

Such arrangements are expected to become more popular following a recent high profile case. German Heiress Katrin Radmacher, won her appeal in the Supreme Court to uphold a pre-nuptial contract signed with her French husband, that reduced his divorce settlement from more than £5m to £1m.

Martin Loxley, partner and head of the family law department at Irwin Mitchell Solicitors said “This ruling gives important clarity in the UK as to the enforceability of pre-nuptial agreements.”

He continues, “Whilst the UK has not yet followed suit, this ruling means that if a couple wants to enter into a pre-nuptial agreement then, providing they meet the fundamentals and consider both their current and future situation, they should have confidence that it will stand up in court, if needed in the future.”

While pre-nuptial agreements may not currently be considered the most romantic gesture when getting married, this case highlights their importance. Everyone believes that their marriage will last but inevitably situations change and it’s a fact of life that couples separate.

Having a properly prepared pre-nup in place can save a lot of headaches and costs arising from fighting each other through the courts. Providing that the agreement is fair in the first place a pre-nup usually takes around 4 weeks to complete.

Pre-nuptial agreements are already legally binding in a number of European countries and research shows that there is no evidence to suggest that pre-nups are responsible for a collapse in marriage - they could actually save you a lot of money further down the line!