The perception of Pre-Nups has often been that they are for the rich and wealthy and exist to protect current wealth and future wealth where one party is considerably more wealthy than the other.
They have increasingly become popular with couples embarking on second marriages where they are used not just to protect future wealth or combined property but to secure pre-marriage assets. It is essential that the value of those assets can be traced back as this will protect those funds even if they are subsequently invested in a joint property or investment.
It has, however, become apparent that younger couples are looking at these agreements to protect their individual wealth and assets which may have been built up from successful careers and property investments. This is particularly relevant now that the trend is for couples to marry later than previous generations. There is also a desire to protect their inheritance where parents have a potentially large estate.
As a sign of the times and the popularity of social media, couples are also wanting to protect their reputations as well as their wealth if things go wrong and the separation becomes acrimonious. American lawyers have seen an increase in requests for this to be built into pre-nup agreements. Couples want to pre-empt one or other publishing negative comments which could have an adverse effect on their reputations. The Lawyers advise that this would, of course, be difficult to enforce due to freedom of speech but it is nevertheless an interesting barometer of the importance that is now placed on this.
Other requests concern protecting frozen embryos and determining whether or not they can be used after divorce, who has custody of pets should the relationship end and ensuring debt which each party takes into the marriage is accounted for.
While neither party will want to go into their marriage or partnership anticipating problems, if it is a second marriage, they will be aware of the emotional and financial turmoil involved with separation and divorce. Similarly, the same applies where younger couples have seen their parents’ divorce.
With regard to second marriages a Pre-Nup will provide protection for wealth which may already have taken a significant knock in the breakdown of the first marriage. There may also be children from a first marriage who need to be protected.
A Pre-Nup can help to ensure that upon death their estate passes to their own children and not their spouse’s children. A rise in the rate of Probate disputes reaching the High Court has been seen.
It is important to note that a Pre-Nup cannot waive claims for maintenance in future divorces, more particularly if the couple subsequently have children of their own.
In respect of co-habiting couples, despite the popular perception that living together generates rights for cohabiting couples, at present there is no law in place tailored to their needs – and any children they may have together – if their relationship breaks down.
Co-habiting couples should therefore take steps to ensure that their partner and any children will be provided for, should anything unexpected happen by entering a Co-habitation agreement.
Spectrum Family Law will ensure that a pre-nup or cohabitation agreement is correctly drafted and given full legal effect.
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Margaret, Thank you so much for all your support and your professional expertise. Without you I would not have...