Unveiling the Reality1

Hollywood films and showbiz have often presented pre-nuptial agreements as being for the rich and famous. When a celebrity couple gets divorced, the main question is whether they have a prenup. The reality is that prenups can help married couples align their marital finances, no matter how much money is in the pot.

From the outset, it is important to understand that marriage makes you and your spouse legally and financially bound together. Once married, any monies or property used by the parties to the marriage can be considered a matrimonial asset.

The role of a prenup is to set out the financial position concerning matrimonial and non-matrimonial assets upon divorce to make a division of the assets more manageable. Each prenup must include a schedule of financial disclosure from both parties to ensure honesty and transparency and each party should take legal advice before signing the agreement. Whilst nuptial agreements are not formally legally binding in the UK, since the leading case of Radmacher v Granatino [2010], the courts now place ‘decisive weight’ on nuptial agreements, which allows the parties to agree on their financial affairs, to avoid the otherwise lengthy and expensive process of divorce proceedings.   

Common reasons that couples choose to enter a nuptial agreement is if one partner brings significantly more wealth into the marriage than the other, or if one is expecting to inherit wealth in the future. Whilst these reasons are, of course, significant, if your priority is to deal with your finances accumulated before marriage to avoid any disagreement in the event of a divorce, prenups can be considered regardless of whether there are sizeable assets or not.

It is not only the wealthier spouse who is protected. Couples are also given flexibility as to its terms which can be tailored to them whether it be allocating debts or designating assets. The benefit of legal advice also promotes open communication from both parties and allows parties to confront issues that are often avoided, to ensure clarity and stability for both parties as they enter into marriage. This allows lawyers to prepare a well-drafted document to ensure that it is effective in the longer term.

If you would like any advice on prenups, please contact Eve Bentley: