Amidst the excitement of their high profile love story, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's impending nuptials spark important conversations amongst the family law community. Up for discussion both in the UK and across the pond has, undoubtedly, been the benefits and details of a royal prenuptial agreement. Briefly, there were rumours of Harry and Meghan entering into one. More recently, the reports from the Palace are that they have followed in William and Kate’s shoes and there will be no prenuptial agreement between the English prince and his American bride.
Meghan must be surprised.
In America, prenups are commonplace with couples freely entering terms before they are married -dealing with everything from who keeps the cat to penalty clauses for gaining weight. It is also far more common to hear reports of bizarre demands and clauses in celebrity pre-nuptial agreements. But in England there is more reticence with prenups being considered unromantic, even offensive. There is also continuing uncertainty as to whether they are enforceable.
There is no law in England which says that if you and your partner sign an agreement about what happens at the end of the relationship, that agreement will be automatically upheld and enforced. However, where an agreement has been freely entered into and is fair, the court should give effect to the terms you agreed.
Broaching the subject and negotiating the terms is frightening and can expose difficulties in relationships. That doesn’t mean they should be avoided. Almost every couple will need to make serious financial decisions together during their relationship so the ability to communicate about money is vital. If the terms of a prenup cannot be agreed, it raises questions about mutual respect and understanding. All of these are issues which need to be worked through sensitively. This isn’t easy when almost everything else you are dealing with in the run up to a wedding if filled with joy and excitement.