As we face yet another lockdown in England, many couples are dealing with the misfortune of having to delay their wedding for a second, or even a third time.
This will no doubt lead to large amounts of stress and time-consuming “wedmin”. However one important point which must not be overlooked is your pre-nuptial agreement, and whether this remains valid given the further delays.
For how long are pre-nuptial agreements normally valid?
Most pre-nups contain a provision stating that the agreement will apply to any marriage between the parties which takes place within a fixed period of time from the date of the agreement being signed – usually anywhere between three and 12 months.
It is always considered best practice to sign your prenuptial agreement not later than 28 days before the date of the wedding itself, but prenuptial agreements have traditionally been drafted so as to allow for unexpected events causing a delay in the wedding date – for example an unexpected illness or other event which would need the date to be rearranged.
What if my wedding is rearranged for a second or third time?
It is fair to say that no one could have predicted the delays imposed on couples hoping to marry, by the government restrictions which have been brought in since the Covid pandemic arrived almost a year ago.
Many couples have been forced to rearrange their wedding day, only to then have to rearrange yet again. The queue to get married is becoming longer by the day!
Any couples who have already signed a prenuptial agreement and are still waiting to be able to rearrange their wedding day, should – as a matter of priority – check their prenuptial agreement document and ensure that it will still be valid once they are married.
What happens if my pre-nuptial agreement is no longer valid when we get married?
If the date of the marriage will fall outside the date upon which the prenup is no longer to be considered valid (or it is likely to expire by the date of the rearranged wedding day), there could be potentially significant consequences for one party in the event of a future divorce.
In that scenario, the court would have to take into account the fact that the relevant date had expired and may discount the prenuptial agreement altogether. Any argument that the prenuptial agreement should be upheld (notwithstanding its expiry date had passed due to exceptional circumstances) may prove unsuccessful, as there is plenty of opportunity for couples to revisit and update their prenuptial agreements.
Other financial considerations for couples soon to be married
Another consideration for engaged couples is where there has been a change in financial or personal circumstances since the date the original prenuptial agreement was signed. These changes may render existing pre-nups unfair, or at least far less attractive to one of the parties.
We all anticipate the economic fallout arising from the pandemic, the ripples of which are only just beginning to be felt. If one party has seen a significant downturn in their fortune as a result – such as the value of their assets, loss or reduction of income, or even health problems – the terms of the prenuptial agreement should be revisited.
Updating your pre-nuptial agreement with current financial information
When reviewing a prenuptial agreement due to these delays (whether it has expired or not), you should check whether your financial information contained within the agreement needs to be updated, in light of the delay.
If there have been any relevant changes in the financial circumstances of one or both parties, they ought to be shown in the updated agreement, regardless of whether the terms of the prenuptial agreement are to be changed.
For most couples, the delay in their wedding dates is frustrating, but there will have been little change in their positions as to what they intend, in terms of the division of their assets, were the marriage to fail. However, the golden rule for anyone still awaiting their wedding, but with a signed prenuptial agreement in their drawer at home, is to review it without delay, and take legal advice.
If the issues raised in this blog post affect you, please either get in touch with the solicitor who assisted you with the agreement, or contact Silk, where one of our specialist family lawyers will be able to assist you.
Blog post by Eleanor Lowes, solicitor at Silk Family Law. You contact Eleanor online or by calling 0191 500 0777.
Image credits: Photos by Romain Dancre and Drew Coffman on Unsplash