Pre nuptial update - how to avoid life after divorce being a financial calamity

Divorce is all about the children and the money.  It's really that simple.  If you have an agreement about how the assets of the marriage are to be divided between you in the event of a divorce then at least you won't be arguing about who gets what.

pre-nuptial agreement docuementWhat is a pre-nup?
A prenuptial agreement is a formal ‘contract' entered into by a couple prior to their marriage.  It sets out what they have agreed will happen to their assets in the event of a divorce.

That will give you more time and space and less stress to make sure that the children are looked after as well as possible in a time that will be as traumatic for them as it is for you.

Who needs one?
Once seen as being only relevant to celebrity couples, a recent ruling by the Supreme Court in October 2010 means that pre-nups may well become popular amongst us mere mortals.  It's especially relevant if there is a large disparity of wealth between the couple or there is an expectation of a future inheritance. 

Key considerations in drawing up the agreement
Fairness is a guiding principle in drafting the agreement.  The courts will not uphold an agreement that unfairly disadvantages either party.  Judging what is ‘fair' will, therefore, be a key decision in the drafting of the pre nup agreement.

The timing of the agreement is also important.  This should be done well before the marriage as anyone who was asked to sign a pre-nup at the last minute may be able to argue later that it was unfair due to emotional duress.

The Court's decision made it clear that if a pre-nuptial agreement is entered into freely and with a full appreciation of its implications then it will be upheld.

How long will it take and how much will it cost
If all the necessary information is available, then it will usually take around four weeks to complete as both sides have to be given the opportunity to take legal advice and consider whether the agreement is fair and equitable.

The cost varies according to the complexity of the agreement but it can range from £2,000 - £10,000.  So not a cheap option but if substantial assets are involved it could represent good value and save a great deal of costly court time arguing about your aunt's inheritance. 

Are prenups now legally binding?
Until the recent Supreme Court ruling, there was confusion over the weight that should be given to pre-nups in court.  While any new laws regarding how binding they are will need to be passed by Parliament, this ruling sets a precedent that pre-nups will now be given what our legal colleagues describe as ‘decisive and compelling' weight.   

So pre nups are pretty much a done deal.  If you have one your new life after divorce will at least start with a lot less of the acrimony and bad feeling resulting from a bruising battle in the killing fields known as the Divorce Courts.

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