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Pre-nuptial agreements – a guide

Are you planning to get married? If so, hopefully your marriage will be a happy and successful one. Without wanting to put a dampener on any forthcoming nuptials, it is a sad fact that many marriages end in divorce. In the unfortunate event of Marital breakdown, an effective pre-nuptial agreement could make resolving financial matters less painful. In particular, if you are entering the marriage with assets you wish to protect then you should consider entering in to pre-nuptial agreement.

What is a pre-nuptial agreement? It is an agreement entered into before a marriage setting out what will happen in relation to financial matters if the marriage breaks down.

Are they enforceable? They are not strictly legally binding under the law in England and Wales. Before you decide they must be a waste of time, however, read on! The effectiveness of pre-nuptial agreements is dictated by cases decided in the country’s higher courts. There has recently been a gradual trend in the courts upholding pre-nuptial agreements.

The most recent, well publicised case of Radmacher v Granatino gives clear indication that such agreements should usually be upheld and many people believe the decision in this case effectively legalises pre-nups. In this case the Supreme Court gave effectiveness to the pre-nuptial agreement wealthy German heiress Karin Radmacher entered into with her husband Nicolas Granatino which protected her £100 million pound fortune and left Mr Granatino with just £70,000 maintence per year.

It is certainly clear that this land mark ruling means that if a couple enters into a pre-nuptial agreement they are likely to have to stand by it.

Are you planning to get married? If so, hopefully your marriage will be a happy and successful one. Without wanting to put a dampener on any forthcoming nuptials, it is a sad fact that many marriages end in divorce. In the unfortunate event of Marital breakdown, an effective pre-nuptial agreement could make resolving financial matters less painful. In particular, if you are entering the marriage with assets you wish to protect then you should consider entering in to pre-nuptial agreement.

What is a pre-nuptial agreement? It is an agreement entered into before a marriage setting out what will happen in relation to financial matters if the marriage breaks down.

Are they enforceable?     They are not strictly legally binding under the law in England and Wales. Before you decide they  must be a waste of time, however, read on! The effectiveness of pre-nuptial agreements is dictated by cases  decided in the country’s higher courts. There has recently been a gradual trend in the courts upholding pre-nuptial agreements.

The most recent, well publicised case of Radmacher v Granatino gives clear indication that such agreements  should usually be upheld and many people believe the decision in this case effectively legalises pre-nups.   In this case the Supreme Court gave effectiveness to the pre-nuptial agreement  wealthy German heiress Karin Radmacher entered into with her husband Nicolas Granatino which protected her £100 million pound fortune and left Mr Granatino  with just £70,000 maintence per year.

It is certainly clear that this land mark ruling means that if a couple enters into a pre-nuptial agreement they are likely to have to stand by it.

Points to note                             

Ideally the parties to the pre-nuptial agreement will simply put it into effect if the marriage breaks down without the need to argue through the courts. Be prepared, however, for the possibility that if marital bliss comes to an end your spouse may decide they are no longer happy with the agreement. The following points should  be borne in mind:

  1. The court can still do what it considers to be fair and therefore an unfair agreement may not be upheld.
  2. In order for your pre-nuptial agreement to have the best chance both parties should disclose their assets and seek independent legal advice. Also ensure neither party is under any duress – eg enter into the agreement a reasonable time before the wedding – not the day before!
  3. The agreement is less likely to be upheld if the marriage lasts longer than 10 years or there are dependent children.  A change in circumstances  should be reflected in a post nuptial agreement which can be entered into after the marriage.

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