Prenups – know your rights before tying the knot
Around half of all marriages now end in divorce. It is therefore natural that partners might wish to agree what should happen in the event of a breakdown of the relationship.
Family law specialist Andrew Woolley recommends that couples at least consider pre-nups before tying the knot. ‘Prenuptial agreements carry some sort of stigma as some might feel that preparing for the worst is a particularly unromantic way of starting a marriage.
‘Ultimately no one knows what the future holds, and unfortunately relationships do break down, so it might be best to protect yourself, and your personal assets. Whatever you do decide, all couples should seek the advice of a family lawyer and make themselves fully aware of the legal commitments marriage entails, before making that big step.’
A prenuptial agreement is a document in which a couple set out their rights in relation to any property, debts, income and other assets purchased together or acquired individually, or that they have bought into a relationship. Prenuptial agreements can provide certainty and the means of protecting pre-marriage assets, inheritance, and existing family commitments such as children from a previous marriage. Legally, once married all of these assets become matrimonial assets and, unless specifically protected, are thrown into a single financial pot – so marriage involves commitments and legal obligations that not everyone is aware of.
Mr Woolley advises that each partner seek independent legal advice from a specialist family lawyer. ‘Whether or not you decide to create a pre-nuptial agreement I can’t stress enough the importance of speaking to an expert. Even if this is a brief consultation or bit of research to find out your rights as a married person both partners should seek independent legal advice from an experienced family law practitioner.’
Mr Woolley is the Managing Partner of Woolley & Co. solicitors. Their website, www.family-lawfirm.co.uk serves as a resource on matters of family law, including divorce, legal separation, family finances and children.