Prenuptial agreements are no longer just for celebrities. The number of couples adding these to their wedding checklist is steadily on the rise. Prenuptial agreements (PNAs) might not be as much fun to think about as wedding cakes or honeymoons but they can help you to avoid financial issues later on. Irrespective of whether you are planning a traditional white wedding or an elopement to Las Vegas, entering into a PNA may offer the following benefits as Carolyn Bottomley explains:
A PNA enables you and your partner to agree at the outset of your marriage how your finances will be divided if you later separate or divorce.
Freedom to agree your own terms
You and your partner may have a creative plan for dividing your assets if you divorce. A PNA provides you with the freedom to agree your own terms without the court imposing a solution on you.
Prior to entering into a PNA, you and your partner will each be required to disclose, to the other, details of your income, assets and debts. There will be no surprises at the outset of your marriage as you will both be familiar with each other’s financial positions before tying the knot.
Protection of assets
You and your partner may wish to “ring-fence” certain assets from one another, such as inherited assets, family heirlooms, jewellery, an interest in a family (or other) business, gifts, pets, or property acquired before the marriage. If the PNA ring-fences such property, the court is less likely to award a share of that property to your partner on any future divorce.
Protection of family members
If you and/or your partner have children from a previous relationship, a PNA can ensure certain assets are reserved for them and that their inheritance rights are protected (it is also crucial to make a Will for the same reason).
If you or your partner has significant debts, either now or in the future, a PNA can be used to protect assets from being used to satisfy the debts of the other spouse.
A PNA can protect your business interests so that the business is not divided and subject to the control or involvement of your former spouse upon divorce.
Nobody wants their personal matters to be made public. A detailed confidentiality clause can be included to ensure that the terms of the PNA, any subsequent divorce and financial disclosure are kept confidential.
Compensation for loss of career
If during the marriage, you or your partner plan to give up a potentially lucrative career to care for the family, a PNA can ensure that that person is entitled to a greater share of the assets on the breakdown of the marriage to reflect their loss of earning power going forward. It is often difficult to convince the court to award an element of “compensation” for loss of career, but provision for compensation in a PNA is likely to be upheld by the court.
Provision on death
A PNA can clarify what should happen to certain assets on your death (in support of the provision contained in your Will). For example, the inheritance prospects of children and grandchildren can be protected in a PNA.
Marrying for money concerns
You may have concerns that part of the reason your partner wishes to marry you is due to your wealth. It may give you peace of mind if your partner shows commitment to negotiating a PNA that leaves you both with financial provision that is fair and reasonable.
Minimises acrimony on divorce
Setting out how assets are to be divided on divorce should lead to fewer arguments about finances should you later divorce, and result in a more amicable relationship between you. This is particularly important if you have children together.
May save money
While you and your partner will incur legal fees for preparing and advising on the terms of the PNA, it is usually much less expensive to negotiate and draft a PNA than to litigate about the division of your finances should you later separate or divorce.
Already married? It is not too late to enter into a post-nuptial agreement which can provide the same financial protection.