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Prettys Solicitors Ipswich

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Pre-marital agreements

Friday 14th of February is Valentine’s Day and a recent survey concluded that after Christmas Day, it is the most popular day of the year for marriage or civil partnership proposals. With so many proposals, it is  usual for us to expect an increase in queries about pre-marital or pre-civil partnership agreements this time  of the year.

Whilst nobody would describe pre-marital agreements as romantic, they are becoming more commonplace.  Recent statistics suggest that 42% of marriages end in divorce and therefore it makes sense that more  and more people are realising that pre-marital agreements can serve a real purpose in helping to regulate  what might happen if their relationship were to later break down.

A pre-marital agreement is a formal agreement entered into ahead of marriage or civil partnership. The agreement will usually set out who owns what ahead of the marriage and also how it is intended those assets should be divided in the event of later separation or divorce. A pre-marital agreement is not legally  binding but considerable weight will be attached to such agreements. This means the parties will be  expected to follow the terms of the agreement unless they can demonstrate a reason why it would be unfair  to do so.

There are certain steps that can be taken to help ensure a pre-marital agreement will be followed. These include:

  1. Each party taking separate legal advice. This helps to show that both understand the meaning of the agreement.
  2. There being an exchange of financial disclosure (documentation). This helps to show that both had the financial information needed to make informed decisions.
  3. The agreement is not completed at short notice. The recommendation is at least 21 days before the wedding or civil partnership. This helps to show that the parties were not under pressure to sign.
  4. The agreement is realistic and fair; it should not be completely in the favour of one person.
  5. The agreement needs to be reviewed either because of any significant change in circumstance (for example, the birth of a child) or simply because a set amount of time has passed (for example, 5 years). Keeping the agreement up to date demonstrates further intention that the parties wish for it to be kept to.

The family law team at Prettys can advise and talk you through your options in relation to a pre-marital or pre-civil partnership agreement. For further information, please contact us.

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