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Sign of the times before the big day

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Considered by many as being unromantic and arguably being the last thing on the mind of potential newlyweds, entering into a prenuptial agreement can in reality be a very sensible and logical step to take before walking down the aisle.

Church Booked… Check;

Venue organised….Check;

Honeymoon planned…Check;

Pre-Nup Signed…. Check

Considered by many as being unromantic and arguably being the last thing on the mind of potential newlyweds, entering into a prenuptial agreement can in reality be a very sensible and logical step to take before walking down the aisle. This is particularly the case where one of the parties has, for example, family wealth, or a potential inheritance.

The courts are beginning to attach increasing weight to prenuptial agreements, the thinking behind this being that it is up to the husband and wife to decide what should happen to their money upon the unfortunate breakdown of a marriage. Provided that the agreement is not manifestly unfair on one of the parties, the courts are more likely than ever before to uphold the agreement when determining what the financial settlement between the parties should be. The signing of an agreement can therefore be a cost saving exercise as well, because if it is there and has been signed in the right circumstances, then this can ultimately save the costs of a long drawn out battle in court if the marriage breaks down.

Recent cases that have involved considerable family wealth on both sides, have seen the courts recognising that husbands and wives to be are entitled to decide what should happen to their own money. One particular case saw the bride’s father insisting that she enter into a prenup as he was so anxious that the family wealth be protected – he even said that he would disinherit her if she did not sign the agreement and then went on to get married. This would also prove that her husband was marrying her for love and not money.

When deciding if a prenup should be upheld, the court will look at a number of factors, including the parties’ understanding of the terms of the agreement, taking independent legal advice, knowledge of the other’s financial situation and an involvement in the negotiations of the terms of the agreement.

We have seen a significant increase in the number of clients contemplating marriage who are coming to us for advice about prenups, particularly in light of recent developments in the law. Whilst making an appointment with a solicitor might not be up there on the list of wedding preparations, with the dress, cake, flowers etc, we would certainly suggest that even an informal chat to get some basic advice could be extremely worthwhile.

If you would like to speak to our family team please contact partner Justine Osmotherly.

This article was featured in The Yorkshire Post - 20 July 2010.

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