If you are planning to marry your partner, you may wish to consider a pre-nuptial agreement. A pre-nuptial agreement sets out your views and your partner’s views on how you both wish to deal with your financial arrangements during the marriage and in the event that the marriage breaks down in the future. Where one of you has significantly more assets or income than your partner a pre-nuptial agreement is particularly important and may save you significant legal fees in trying to resolve a financial agreement with your spouse, in the event that your marriage does break down.

Since the decision of the Supreme Court Granatino v Radmacher [2010] UKSC 42 it is clear that the courts in England and Wales will take pre-nuptial agreements into account as a factor to be considered. This case established that “the court should give effect to a nuptial agreement that is freely entered into by each party with the full appreciation of its implications unless in the circumstances prevailing it would not be fair to hold the parties to their agreement.” Factors which will undoubtedly help the agreement carry more evidential weight include both parties taking independent legal advice, full financial disclosure taking place and there being no undue pressure on one party to sign the agreement.

The Law Commission’s recent recommendations on pre-nuptial agreements (published 27 February 2014) propose a new system – If your pre-nuptial agreement meets certain minimum formalities, including: the pre-nuptial agreement being made 28 days before the marriage, both parties disclosing material information about their financial position and both parties receiving independent legal advice, – then that pre-nuptial agreement becomes a ‘Qualifying Nuptial Agreement’, which would prohibit the court from interfering with the terms of that QNA, unless it does so to meet the needs of a party to the agreement or their child. The recommendations of the report reflects the general trend towards pre-nuptial agreements becoming both more popular and acceptable to the courts and the public.

However, at present the current law is as per Granatino v Radmacher.

After you have married, it may be advisable to enter into a post-nuptial agreement, which confirms your pre-nuptial agreement.

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