Law Commission recommends legal status for pre-nups

The Law Commission has announced that pre-nups should be binding under British law after certain criteria has been met.

Prenuptial agreements – often popular with US celebrities – give couples the chance to legally protect their assets before they marry, but WHN expert family lawyer, David Connor, warns for many people, a lack of legal knowledge could prove problematic.

“The Commission’s suggestion that the Government should introduce legislation would bring autonomy and control to couples, making the financial outcome of separation more predictable.

Wealthy individuals wanting to ring-fence property or to decide how their assets should be divided before a marriage will also be in favour of legally binding pre-nup. The largest group of people likely to enter into such agreements are those marrying for a second time who understandably wish to preserve assets for the benefit of the children of their first marriage.

However, to avoid the pre-nup being invalid from the outset, future needs for housing, child care and incomes should be acknowledged. This will be of particular importance for younger couples who may set out wishes prematurely without considering life changes including that of starting a family. When considering the Commission’s recommendations, the Government should therefore draw-up provisions for review of the existing law to make it simpler to understand.

The Law Commission’s has issued some guidelines which include;

1. Before an agreement can become binding, both parties must disclose material financial information, and each party must have the benefit of legal advice.

2. The pre-nup must be a valid contract and not based upon any unfair pressures by one party

3. It must not be made within a 28 day period prior to a wedding

It is clear that this area of law has progressed and pre-nuptial agreements are likely to succeed due to demand. In 2012 the number of couples divorcing increased to 118,140, up from 117,558 the previous year and the growth of divorce has led to more calls for pre-nups to be recognised.

The demolition of family legal aid has made it more difficult for people to access legal advice. If you are considering a pre-nuptial agreement you are advised to speak to the experts to safeguard your future.”

For further information call 01706 225621 or email david.connor@whnsolicitors