My Partner Wants Me To Sign A Pre-Nuptial Agreement, Should I?

22nd March 2021

So your partner popped the question and you said yes. Congratulations! You have bought the ring and set the date for the wedding and then your partner asks you to sign a pre-nuptial agreement This is awkward as it raises the suggestion the marriage might not last and no one wants to enter into marriage with a negative outlook, right?.

How should you react if you are the one that has been asked to sign a pre-nuptial agreement?

What should you look out for in the agreement?

Should you sign it?

These are all valid questions.

Pre-nuptial agreements are no longer just for the rich and famous and are becoming more and more popular among the general population

No one enters a marriage thinking it won’t last but nothing apart from death and taxes is guaranteed. Think of a pre-nuptial agreement as an insurance policy which provides a level of reassurance if a break-up ever happens

Some of the questions I explore with my client are as follows:

Who is asking to sign a pre-nuptial agreement and why?

It’s usually the wealthier partner who wants a pre-nuptial agreement. They have been through a divorce or difficult and/or expensive separation and do not want to go through that again.

Sometimes, it's because they have children from a previous relationship and they want to safeguard their children’s inheritance.   

Other reasons include pressure from family members especially if they plan to provide money, property, or there is a family business. Whilst it might feel like a lack of trust it often boils down to fear of losing assets and/or livelihood through no doing of their own

What you should do immediately is:

1. Get independent legal advice

You cannot be advised by your partner's solicitor and/or financial advisor. You need your own legal advice form someone who is looking after your interests only. 

2. Understand all the implications of the agreement

This is achieved by your lawyer being provided with full details of your respective financial circumstances including all assets you both presently own, your incomes and your debts. Your lawyer will then be able to advise you of the implications of the agreement compared to what your situation may be if you marry without a pre-nup in place and later divorce.  

If you think your partner hasn’t disclosed everything, then you must let your lawyer know who will enquire about any missing assets or clarify if they are owned by someone else. 

Failure to make full and frank disclosure of assets could render an agreement void and therefore unenforceable.  

3. Make sure you are comfortable with the terms of the agreement Don’t sign the agreement in haste. Take your time to fully consider your lawyer's advice and the implications. Think about how your financial future may look like if you separate and are bound by the terms of the pre-nup.

If there are terms you feel uncomfortable with, then they must be discussed and renegotiated or clarified BEFORE you sign otherwise you will risk being bound by those terms   

Timing is also crucial

Ideally, a prenuptial agreement should NOT be entered into just before a wedding, and certainly, in my opinion, before any invitations go out. This may reduce/remove any suggestion of pressure by one of you over the other.

If a court later determines that one of you was unduly pressured, then this could render the agreement invalid. However, don’t bank on this as any defence if you later regret signing the agreement and don’t wish to be bound by its terms

The pros and cons of a pre-nup:

Pros

1. It gives you both a clear idea of what will happen if the relationship breaks down.  

2. It will reduce conflict and help you to maintain an amicable relationship, which is important if there are children

3. The cost of a prenuptial agreement is significantly less than contested divorce proceedings    

4. It can ring-fence and protect future assets acquired and/or inheritances

Cons or reasons for resistance

The prenuptial agreement will advantage one partner more than the other, usually the wealthier partner. 

They are unromantic and may be considered by the weaker party as a hold their partner has over them or that their partner is not committed to the relationship

Remember a pre-nuptial agreement isn’t personal it’s business and can be forgotten about unless the marriage breaks down

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

If you would like more information about whether a pre-nup is right for you in your circumstances or you have been presented with one to sign, then please get in touch 

Sarah 

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