In a recent case the courts confirmed the legal status of pre-marital (also known as pre-nuptial) agreements. The court has made it clear that such agreements will be upheld as long as:
1. The parties entered into such an agreement freely and have fully disclosed to the other their financial situation beforehand and
2. Both parties have the opportunity to seek legal advice (some commentators believe it is essential for legal advice to be given)
3. There is no good reason not to hold the parties to the agreement. Such good reasons may be if there are children of the marriage; the agreement is clearly unfair in its terms; the marriage is longer than a short marriage i.e. over 5-7 years or if it is shown that one of the parties did not fully disclose his or her financial situation to the other.
However, it is important to remember such agreements are not binding upon the court and that it would remain open to either party to challenge the terms of this agreement by way of an application to the court in the event of divorce proceedings.
As such there can be no guarantee that the terms of this agreement would be upheld by the court although a pre-marital agreement is still the best way of trying to ensure this is the case.
The court has a wide discretion and may conclude that the agreement is unfair and that a party has an entitlement if the other party’s assets are far greater. To reduce the risk of this happening, it may be better to make reasonable provision for the other party within the agreement. This is especially so in the event that one party amasses significant assets during the marriage and it is essential to then take legal advice on whether a post nuptial agreement is necessary.
We offer a fixed fee of £300 plus VAT for preparing a straightforward pre-marital agreement where matters are agreed between the parties, and negotiations and significant redrafting are not required.
23RD MARCH 2012