Are Prenups Legally Binding? Prenuptial Agreements

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What is a prenuptial agreement?

Entering a marriage or civil partnership is an exciting time, and the thought of divorce may be the last thing on your mind during this time. However, finances after divorce is something that should be considered

A prenuptial agreement, often referred to as a “prenup,” is a written contract entered into by a couple before they get married or enter into a civil partnership. The main purpose of a prenuptial agreement is to outline how the couple wishes their assets, finances, and any debts to be divided between them in the event of a divorce or dissolution of the partnership.

Prenuptial agreements can be a complex issue within family law, and parties often ask the question “are prenups legally binding?”

Are prenups legally binding?

Prenuptial agreements are not always legally binding in the UK like in other places. But recent cases show that UK courts may still take them into account during divorce if certain conditions are met.

For the Court to consider a prenuptial agreement legally binding in the UK, it must meet the following criteria:

  • Freely entered: Both parties must have entered into the agreement voluntarily, without any pressure or duress from the other party.
  • Full disclosure: There must have been a full disclosure of each party’s financial circumstances before the agreement was made. Each party is expected to provide a transparent and complete account of their assets, liabilities, and income.
  • Legal advice: Ideally, both parties should have received independent legal representation and advice on the agreement to ensure that they fully understand its implications.
  • Fairness: The agreement must be fair and must not prejudice any children of the marriage.
  • Timing: The agreement should be made well in advance of the wedding or civil partnership ceremony; a guideline is at least 21 days before.

The Supreme Court’s landmark decision in the case of Radmacher v Granatino in 2010 significantly increased the weight that prenuptial agreements hold in UK law. I

n this case, the court ruled that, provided the agreements are fair and both parties have entered into them fully informed and without undue pressure, they should be upheld.

Since then, while not automatically enforceable, prenuptial agreements that meet the necessary criteria are generally respected by the courts and can significantly influence the division of assets upon divorce.

Despite their increasing recognition, it’s important for individuals considering a prenuptial agreement in the UK to understand that the court retains the ultimate discretion to decide whether the agreement should be upheld, based on the circumstances of the case and the principles of fairness and reasonableness.

When should a prenuptial agreement be made?

The timing of the pre nuptial agreement is also crucial. It is recommended that the prenuptial agreement be signed at least 28 days before the marriage or civil partnership ceremony.

This guideline aims to prevent any claims of undue pressure or haste in making such a significant legal decision.

Family lawyers often advise their clients on this timeline to ensure the agreement is considered valid and enforceable.

In addition to prenuptial agreements, there are also postnuptial agreements—similar contracts entered into after a couple has married or formed a civil partnership. Like prenuptial agreements, these documents outline how assets should be divided in the event of a separation, providing a framework for financial arrangements post-marriage.

How can Expert Family Law assist?

Are you still asking the question “are prenups legally binding?” Our team can put you in touch with a specialist family law solicitor from our panel who can assist with prenuptial agreements, postnuptial agreements, and other divorce issues including high net worth divorces.

Please contact us today using the form at the top of the page to find out if a divorce solicitor from our panel could help on your case.

Please note we are not a firm of solicitors. We maintain a panel of trusted and regulated legal experts who provide independent legal advice and assistance on all family law matters. If you contact us in relation to a case, we may pass your case on to a panel firm in return for a fee from our panel firms. We will never charge you for passing on your case to a panel firm.

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