New Year, New Beginnings

Sally Clark Blog

December is the most popular month for popping the question, and 40% of proposals take place between December and Valentine’s Day. If you are one of the lucky ones looking forward to tying the knot this year, have you considered if a pre-nuptial agreement may be appropriate?

Though it is not the most romantic conversation to have post engagement, it can ultimately save time, expense and acrimony to have these matters addressed prior to the big day.

A pre-nuptial agreement sets out what the parties intend will happen to their property and assets should the marriage or civil partnership end. Though not automatically binding, the court confirmed the status of pre-nuptial agreements in the well-known Radmacher v Granatino case:-

the court should give effect to a nuptial agreement that is freely entered into by each party, with a full appreciation of its implications unless in the circumstances prevailing it would not be fair to hold the parties to their agreement’.

So what does this mean in practical terms? Firstly, a pre-nuptial agreement cannot be merely cobbled together as a vague set of declarations and signed by each party. This would not satisfy the court. Certain steps need to be taken to ensure the court will attribute weight to the provisions of the agreement.

Both parties need to have a clear understanding of the assets of the other, and the pre-nuptial agreement would normally have full financial disclosure annexed to it. Both parties also need to have had the benefit of independent legal advice, and enter into the agreement without pressure or coercive action from the other. The terms of the agreement must be fair, and allow sufficient provision for both parties upon divorce, including any children of the marriage.

If you are considering entering into or have any questions regarding pre-nuptial agreements, we can provide you with initial advice and guidance during a free half hour appointment. To arrange an appointment, please contact our Harrogate office on 01423 637 272, our Liversedge office on 01274 861 096, or email us.