Taking place after a marriage, a postnuptial agreement (post-nup) gives couples the control to set out what would happen to their assets should the relationship break down in the future.

While many people are aware of prenuptial agreements (pre-nups) and their benefits, post-nups are much less common, despite crucially helping couples save time, uncertainty and acrimony during potential divorce proceedings.

Here, family law expert David Connor explains what postnuptial agreements are, and explores typical situations where this type of arrangement is beneficial.

What is a post-nup?

Much like a pre-nup, a postnuptial agreement is a formal, written agreement which allows individuals to determine how to settle issues relating to financial assets without the need to go to court, should their marriage fail.

A post-nup is essentially the same as a pre-nup, with the main distinction that it is entered into after the marriage or civil partnership has already taken place, rather than before.

Why get a postnuptial agreement?

Although postnuptial agreements may be viewed as unromantic, they reduce the risk of conflict if the marriage does not work out.

They’re particularly helpful where there’s a need to ringfence business or inherited wealth and distinguish it from matrimonial assets, and to have the freedom to determine a creative solution that may not otherwise be achieved.

With the rise of silver splitters and many choosing to re-marry later on in life, they’re also extremely beneficial in safeguarding assets for children from previous relationships.

While postnuptial agreements don’t need to cover everything you own, it is a good idea to ringfence assets that are important to each of you. This may include:

  • Savings
  • Cars and other personal possessions
  • A business built up by one partner
  • Property, including any investments, and how it will be split
  • Any inheritance that is expected
  • Debts, including how these will be split and paid off
  • Maintenance payments and how these will work in the future can also be covered

Are post-nups legally binding?

The need to approach this topic with your partner sensitively cannot be overstated, to not only ensure that your relationship isn’t jeopardised, but to also make sure that they are willingly and voluntarily happy to enter into the agreement.

Along with pre-nups, the court will uphold postnuptial agreements as long as all formalities are complied with and it is seen as fair and reasonable. This means that the agreement needs to be entered into by both parties without duress, and with a full appreciation of its implications.

Given you are expected to be held to its terms, post-nups are complicated documents which need to be overseen and drawn up by a qualified solicitor, with both parties having access to legal advice.

David Connor is a director based at WHN’s Rawtenstall office. David specialises in family law matters and deals with financial cases where there are significant assets or cases concerning complex business matters. David has also developed a specialism for dealing with pre-nup and postnuptial agreements and is a member of the Family Law Panel. To contact David, call him on 01706 225621 or email david.connor@whnsolicitors.co.uk