Getting Married? Should you consider making a nuptial agreement?

The latest figures published by the Office for National Statistics showed an increase in the marriage rate, in particular, there has been a significant rise in the number of people aged over 65 who are getting married.

Couples who marry when they are young may come to the marriage with nothing, other than their hopes and dreams for the future. They do not yet have any significant capital assets. Any wealth that they have during their marriage will likely be as a result of their joint efforts.

But for those who marry later in life, the picture is often quite different. They may come to the marriage with significant capital assets, whether property, pensions or investment portfolios. They may have children or grandchildren from earlier relationships. And while everyone getting married, whether young or not-so-young, hopes that their marriage will last, it is a sad fact of life that not every marriage does last.

So what can you, or should you do, to protect yourself?

Perhaps you have been widowed, and want to protect the assets you acquired with your first spouse. Or perhaps you received a large inheritance, and want to protect this for your children and grandchild, should you and your new partner separate in the future.

Whatever your reasons, more and more people are thinking seriously about making a financial agreement before they get married.

A nuptial agreement is an agreement which parties to a marriage make, to set out what should happen to their financial assets, if the marriage should come to an end.

Will the court take the nuptial agreement into account?

There is no absolute guarantee but, so long as the necessary formalities are carried out, it is very likely.

What should I be aware of?

The court will not follow the terms of the nuptial agreement if it would not be “fair” in the circumstances. You cannot agree to leave your spouse destitute.

The parties must have entered into the agreement freely. And they must have had a full appreciation of the implications of the agreement. The parties must have told each other all about their financial situation. They should both have legal advice, and this should be separate advice for each party.

There should be no undue pressure from one party to the other. For this reason, you are advised to allow some time between signing the agreement and the marriage itself. A general rule is that this should be at least three weeks.

Nothing in the agreement will be upheld if it will prejudice the reasonable requirements of any minor (under 18) children of the family. Just as you may need to revisit the terms of your Will, as your life changes over the years, so you may need to reconsider the terms of any nuptial agreement.

If you wish to discuss whether a nuptial agreement is for you, or if you wish to revisit and update an existing nuptial agreement, we offer a free no-obligation 30-minute consultation. Contact us to arrange to speak to one of our experienced family law team.