Will Prenuptials Become Legally Binding?

Family Dept

Divorce has traditionally been a messy experience for all concerned. The law has been unclear, making financial outcomes difficult to predict. Presently, prenuptial agreements provide some protection for assets, however courts are not obliged to enforce them. This could be set to change due to recent proposals by the Law Commission.

They propose that “qualifying nuptial agreements” (QNA) be legally binding, providing that the financial needs of the couple and any children have been met. Determining financial needs has long been an area of dispute but the Law Commission has recommended that guidelines are formulated by the Family Justice Council to provide guidance to Judges on what constitutes those needs.

The proposed changes are likely to be welcomed by people marrying for a second time who want to ensure that they can still make provision for the children from their first marriage, and by those who have acquired a degree of wealth before they marry.

Conditions of Qualifying Nuptial Agreements

For a Prenuptial Agreement to have standing in court, both parties must have received legal advice and fully disclosed all their assets. The agreement must include a statement by each party indicating their understanding that the QNA removes the court’s discretion, except so as to meets needs. The agreement must also have been made at least 28 days before the marriage.

Although it can be awkward to raise the issue of a Prenuptial Agreement with a partner, it will provide both parties with a degree of certainty in the future should the marriage break down. It is best to start the process as early as possible and, ideally, 6 months before the 28 day deadline so that neither party feels any pressure to sign the agreement.

If you would like to discuss making a Prenuptial Agreement with one of our experienced family solicitors in Bristol you can call Anne Thistlethwaite or Alison Dukes on 0117 9621460. Alternatively, email them, annethistlethwaite@amdsolicitors.com or alisondukes@amdsolicitors.com.

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