Pre nuptial agreements – or “pre nups” – are on the increase, as are “post nups”. Once thought to be the preserve of celebrities, more and more people are entering into them, particularly if there are significant wealth or business interests involved. Sarah Atkinson, a leading divorce lawyer from Stephens Scown, discusses the issues.
The court’s normal starting point on divorce is a 50/50 division of a couple’s assets. A correctly drafted pre or post nup agreement changes this and the starting point becomes the agreement.
A pre-nuptial agreement is entered into before a couple gets married, and a post-nup can be agreed at any time after a couple is already married. They both do the same thing, which is provide guidance to the court about what the couple would like to happen to their assets should they split up.
There are several circumstances when entering into a pre or post nup may be beneficial; here are two of the main ones.
The number of people getting married for the second time is on the up. For some couples one or both of them may have built up significant assets or business interests before their second marriage.
If this second marriage breaks down, potentially all of the couple’s resources could be considered by the court when deciding on the financial settlement. To be safe and maximise the chances of preserving assets built up before the second marriage, it is advisable to enter into a pre or post nup.
For family businesses that are thinking about succession a pre or post nup is often a wise thing to have in place before the business is passed on to the next generation. It will set out what should happen to the business in the event of a relationship breakdown.
In order to be followed by a court, pre and post nup agreements must be entered into freely and in full understanding of the terms of the agreement. It is important to seek independent legal advice from a solicitor with experience in this field.
Sarah Atkinson is a partner in the family team at Stephens Scown. The team has top tier ranking in Legal 500. Sarah Atkinson is recognised as a notable practitioner by Chambers UK. To contact Sarah, please call 01872 265100 or email email@example.com.