Just in case…

You may have seen the reports in the media recently saying that marriage has come back into fashion. It appears that more and more people have decided to get married, especially older people.

Marriage is a good thing. Couples who are married are much less likely to split up than unmarried couples. Marriage provides a stable environment in which to raise a family. But, if it goes wrong, divorce is usually inevitable. 42% of marriages end in divorce. Having a pre-nuptial agreement in place may help to keep the financial cost of a divorce to a minimum.

Did I have a prenup when I got married? No. When Mrs Armstrong and I tied the knot a decade ago, prenups were generally considered to not be worth the paper that they were written on. It never even occurred to me.

However, the law has changed. There have been a number of developments in case law about prenups over the last few years which have enormously enhanced the position of pre-nups in English law. The Family Court will now take into account the presence of a pre-nup, although it’s not the only factor that the court will take into account. Pre-nups are about to be given a statutory basis so that that they may be binding, depending upon the circumstances. Once considered to be void for reasons of public policy, they are now considered to be a good thing.

A prenup may be of little value to a young couple, who have little capital to protect or who are planning on having a family. The arrival of children may render a prenup unacceptable to the Court if it does not meet the children’s needs. However, for people who are marrying later in life, or marrying for the second time and who want to protect assets that they hung on to in a divorce, a prenup may be considered essential.

If you have wedding plans and want to consider having a prenup, you should both seek separate legal advice without delay. Don’t leave it till the last minute. Prenups done just before a wedding may be unenforceable as the court may feel that they were signed under duress. You wouldn’t leave it till the last minute to order the dress or the cake, or to book the photographer and the venue. Don’t leave it till the last minute to consult a solicitor.

14 June 2014

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