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Prenuptial agreements (or ‘prenups’) are marriage contracts that set out how your finances will be handled if you and your partner get divorced.
Prenups are generally used when one or both partners have substantial wealth before getting married and they want to protect that wealth if the marriage fails.
Postnuptial agreements (or ‘postnups’) are similar to prenuptial agreements. Like prenups, postnups protect the assets of couples in the event of a divorce. However, unlike prenups, postnups are entered into after getting married.
Prenups and postnups are not automatically legally binding in England and Wales. However, they will be usually considered (and followed) by a court as long as the following safeguards are met:
each party received legal advice about the prenuptial agreement from the start
the agreement is fair
the agreement was made at least 28 days before the marriage (this only applies to prenups)
both parties made full and frank disclosure to the other of their financial wealth - this means that no assets were hidden
neither party was under pressure or duress to sign the agreement against their will
there have been no significant changes to the circumstances of the parties which make the agreement inappropriate (eg the birth of any children, developing a disability or loss of employment)
the agreement is reviewed and amended when appropriate during the course of the marriage, particularly when children are born
If you intend to get married (or have gotten married) and want to keep your own assets (eg any property you own) separate, you can set out your intentions in a prenup or postnup.
When you marry, your assets become 'matrimonial assets'. Unless specifically protected, matrimonial assets can be divided between the parties during divorce proceedings. The main purpose of pre- and postnups is to protect a party’s belongings and limit potential claims. This helps reduce the amount of time and money spent in court.
Cohabitation agreements are similar to prenups and postnups, however, they apply to unmarried couples.
Unmarried couples who move in together can use cohabitation agreements to set out how their assets are owned and is to be divided in case of a breakup.
Like prenups and postnups, certain safeguards should be met for cohabitation agreements to be considered by the courts, including both parties taking independent legal advice before signing the agreement.
For more information, read Cohabitation.
The law is clear - for a prenup, postnup and cohabitation agreements to be legally binding, both parties must have had independent legal advice to help them to understand its terms and effect, and to ensure it is fair.
One of our experienced family lawyers will be able to:
review your document
advise on any amendments, and
provide you with independent legal advice
Our lawyer will help you understand the implications of the agreement, flag any potential issues that may need your attention and advise on how to best handle them.
Our lawyer will then provide you with a Certificate of Independent Legal Advice.
Simply submit your name and contact details above. A family lawyer will then contact you for a free consultation to talk you through the process, discuss fees and put in place an action plan.