Are prenups just for the wealthy?

Following Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s engagement, the media has speculated on whether they will sign a prenuptial agreement. Partner and expert in family law at Birchall Blackburn Law, Gillian Graveson explains why you may consider entering a prenuptial agreement.

Getting engaged and planning a wedding are two of the most exciting things to happen in your life, so the last thing you want to be thinking about is the relationship breaking down and the division of assets. But it’s important that couples are encouraged to plan for the worst and expect the best.

It’s a common misconception that prenups are only for the wealthy. While Prince Harry and Meghan Markle fall into this category, that’s certainly not the case. Couples who bring any personal or business assets into their marriage can potentially benefit from a prenup.

In the UK, prenuptial agreements are not yet legally enforceable by statute. However, following the precedent set in the 2010 case of Radmacher v. Granatino, they are given heavy evidential weight and are something that during a divorce, a judge must now have regard to.

The agreements can be as short or as lengthy as required and the content often varies due to the couple’s personal preference. The most basic agreement lists your premarital assets, so in the event of a divorce the assets remain the property of the original owner.

The more in depth prenups clarify the financial rights and responsibilities of the couple during the marriage and the distribution of property and assets upon divorce. An agreement could also protect you from your partners pre-existing debt and can lay out instructions for any future inheritance or earnings.

For those entering a second marriage, like Meghan, prenups are much more common. In a second marriage, people are typically older and have more assets to protect, or they may have lost property and finance due to the lack of prenup in their first marriage and are looking to avoid making the same mistake again.

Although prenuptial agreements are increasingly being recognised in the British courts, the court does have the discretion to waive any agreement, especially if it has not been prepared following strict guide lines with both parties being honest in their disclosure of assets or any children of the marriage are not given consideration.

Prenuptial agreements are a great tool for protecting assets and heading into marriage with secure financial planning. At Birchall Blackburn Law, our team of family and divorce professionals are on hand to offer expert advice and support.