The Split returned to our screens for its second series this week and opens by tackling the thorny issue of pre-nups, with family lawyers up in arms on social media.
The episode’s focus was on the drama outside of the courtroom, but in the real world pre-nups can be a sensible option for any couple looking to get hitched; the reality is that they are sorely underused by couples in the UK. Our expert Marjha Golding-Evans explains just why they’re a good idea for everyone, not just the few.
They’re not just for the rich and famous
The turbulent but glamorous lives of the celebrity couple at the centre of The Split’s first episode makes for a stimulating plotline, but also an interesting discussion about pre-nups; even if you have to put aside the televisual poetic licence.
Entertainment frivolities aside, don’t be misled that the pre-nup which pervades the episode is just reserved for the upper echelons of society. If you’ve got any assets – be that a house, a pension or you’ve just inherited or won wealth – then a pre-nup is a good idea.
“Pre-nups have a bit of an image problem in that people think they’re just for rich people,” Marjha explained. “The reality is that everyone should consider a pre-nup if there’s an asset involved because it helps you decide how you would want to deal with that asset should you ever separate. Doing that when the sun is shining is far easier then when the clouds of separation have descended.”
They don’t doom a marriage
There is no denying that a pre-nup isn’t exactly romantic but they can be very useful legal documents if things don’t go as you hoped. “I absolutely understand that a pre-nup is not one of those things any couple in love would want to think about,” said Marjha, “But a pre-nup isn’t something you get because you want your marriage to fail: it’s about taking pragmatic steps for the both of you.
“It’s like a having a will; you don’t draw one up in the hope the worst will happen to you or your family, but in recognition of the reality that one day it could happen.”
So if you’re thinking of taking things to the next level and getting married, it’s worth considering your options. In the haze of an all-encompassing new love, contemplating a pre-nuptial agreement might be an uphill struggle, but when done properly a pre-nup protects both parties and can avoid costly contentious litigation in the future. It isn’t doom and gloom: it’s being prepared for every outcome, however slim.
They aren’t binding – but they do still matter
A commonly held misconception is that pre-nups aren’t worth the cost and effort because they aren’t automatically legally binding. However, as with any agreement reached between a divorcing couple, the court will always look favourably on its existence and need a good reason to depart from it.
So as long as you have been frank, open and truthful about your financial picture, and any children in the picture have been provided for, there is little reason a judge should direct something other than that which has been agreed between two consenting adults who were sensible when times were rosy.
So if you’re considering getting married anytime soon, it’s worth taking a look at all the legal protection available for the both of you. While The Split is a dramatic rendition of the family law world, a pre-nup is a sensible option to consider.