Couples often do not consider what will happen in the event of their relationship breaking down and a divorce at the time of marriage. However, this is often vitally important as particularly if one party has more assets than the other they may wish to try to protect these assets in the event of divorce.
Many couples now, particularly more mature couples are agreeing before marriage what would happen in the event of the breakdown of their relationship. They are having a pre-nuptual agreement drafted to reflect their wishes. This provides them with a measure of certainty and means of protecting pre-marriage assets, inheritance and existing family such as children from a previous marriage.
The agreement could provide for what would happen in relation to any property, debts, income, other assets purchased together or acquired individually such as through inheritance or which have been brought into the relationship by one party including pensions.
From a legal perspective, once married the assets become matrimonial assets and unless specifically protected are often considered as part of the matrimonial pot when and if any subsequent divorce proceedings are issued.
A pre-nuptual agreement needs to be prepared, agreed and signed prior to marriage. Both parties need to take independent legal advice about the implications of the same and need to provide full disclosure of their respective financial circumstances within the agreement. The agreement needs to be as precise, clear and detailed as possible, giving particular consideration to what would happen in the event of any change in circumstances such as children being born, inheritance, loss of employment, pensions, purchase of further assets etc.
The main advantage of a pre-nuptual agreement is that it would attempt to limit any potential claims on the assets of one of the parties to the marriage and hopefully avoid costly court proceedings to deal with division of the same upon divorce. However, such agreements are not automatically recognised by English courts. However, they have more recently been taken more and more seriously and are becoming much more likely to be recognised or at least considered within any subsequent divorce proceedings.
The cost of such an agreement can be prepared for a fixed fee of £750 plus VAT limited to a maximum of five hours work.