How legally binding are prenuptial agreements in the UK?
When you get married, it’s often natural to want to solely think of the romantic side of things. To plan the wedding, enjoy your honeymoon, and then look forward to a long life together.
Marriages are however, at their core, contracts, and it’s important to understand everything that you’re signing up for. Prenuptial agreements (PNAs), commonly known as prenups, are a kind of contract that often accompany marriages.
Here, we take a closer look at prenuptial agreements, and specifically examine just how legally binding they are in the UK.
What are prenuptial agreements?
Prenuptial agreements are contracts that are written up and signed prior to the marriage itself, with the aim to provide further clarification on a couple’s finances in the case that they were to split up.
Historically, PNAs were regarded as contentious; in a world dominated by strict religious views of marriage that disregarded the legitimacy of divorce, they were considered harbingers of the decline of a relationship.
Nowadays, they are generally considered pragmatic and symbolic of foresight and are, as a result, becoming increasingly common.
Why are they useful?
Prenuptial agreements are considered useful for two primary reasons. First, they protect people’s assets.
Getting married can potentially threaten the safety of certain assets in the case of a divorce; you might have other dependents that you need to provide for, or simply be uncomfortable with your partner receiving such a large sum in case you separated. Either way, a prenuptial agreement can be written up to protect against this from happening.
Second, prenuptial agreements can help to ensure that both parties are financially protected in the case a couple separates and one hasn’t been able to work during the marriage. This could be due to multiple factors, such as one of the individuals carrying out unpaid labour such as childcare and housework for substantial periods of time.
What aspects of a prenuptial agreement allow it to be upheld in the court in the UK?
For a prenup to be upheld in a court if it meets the following criteria given by the Supreme court:
- Both parties must have been legally informed
- The prenup must have been freely entered into.
- The prenup must be fair.
- It must have been made at least 28 days before the wedding.
- It needs to meet the needs of both parties.
Are they legally binding in the UK?
Prenups are not legally binding themselves in England and Wales, unlike in Scotland and most other countries. They are, however, playing an increasingly crucial part in divorce trials, meaning that in practice they can still be highly effective.
No two prenups are the same though, with some being weaker in a legal setting than others. As a result, it’s important that if you are to get a prenuptial agreement written up, you get it done by an experienced family law solicitor such as the team at Weightmans.