Thursday, 13 October 2011

Winter Brides - Do you have a Pre-Nuptial Agreement?

Getting married is one of the happiest days of a woman's life. Many hours have been spent dreaming of this day as a little girl, trying on your mothers 6 inch high heels and pearl necklaces and waiting for your Prince to come and sweep you off your delicate little feet. Never in any fairy tales would any bride have thought " I really must take steps to protect my financial position and think about what would happen if the marriage breaks down." In modern society, happily ever after is not for everyone.

One of the most important factors that any Bride (or Groom for that matter) must consider today is the possibility of what will happen if the marriage should end. Cue the Pre Nuptial Agreements which were previously reserved for those rich and famous couples who had money to throw at teams of lawyers who would thrash out an agreement and not the let the nuptials take place until each person had signed the dotted line. 

Thinking about the Pre Nuptial Agreement is hardly the most romantic concept of planning the end of the marriage before it has begun but more and more people are starting to think about their future in this way. In reality, so much time is spent planning every last detail of the wedding right down to the colour of the napkins, so it would seem practical to also think about the larger issues such as financial security in the event that the marriage ended. 

So what is the Pre Nuptial Agreement? This is an agreement which is entered into before the marriage or civil union takes place. The Agreement will usually deal with the financial aspects that usually follow on from a divorce. The Agreement can deal with the family home, the spousal maintenance and other assets to include savings, shares and other items such as property owned prior to the marriage, inheritance, loan agreements and debts. 

For the spouse that is bringing the most into the marriage or for those where there is a large disparity in income or assets, a Pre Nuptial Agreement would serve them well if properly drafted and procedurally correct. There is also the issue that if for one spouse this is not the first marriage, they may seek to protect the inheritance of the children from their previous marriage and as such Agreements can serve such individuals well.

A Pre Nuptial Agreement is not as simple a process as drafting the agreement and having both spouses sign the document. There are many factors that need to be considered when drafting such an agreement to ensure that one party is not placed under undue pressure or strain to sign the agreement against their consent. 

In order to ensure that the Agreement is correctly drafted there has to be mutual exchange of financial disclosure between the parties and the provisions of any such agreement must be fair. Such provisions should not be designed to deprive one party of their matrimonial claims against the other. The terms of the agreement must be fair and there must be proper planning in terms of any existing children and future children. Such an agreement cannot be used to limit the financial support that is available for the children. Provided that the Agreement is fair, it will be held as a binding agreement and given weight in the event that the marriage ended.

A Pre Nuptial Agreement is almost like having insurance. It is a document that will only be used in the event that the marriage ended. If the marriage continues the Agreement will serve no purpose. However, it is something that is a reflection of how modern society operates and allows each individual the freedom to decide whether they wish to discuss this aspect of their relationship before they enter into the marriage. 

If you are entering into a marriage or a civil partnership and you would like to discuss and consider a Pre Nuptial Agreement please contact Leeds Family Law Ltd for your FREE consultation.

Leeds Family Law Website