Should I get a prenup ahead of my wedding?

couple signing a document at a table

Should I get a prenup ahead of my wedding? If you're planning your wedding, it's likely you're experiencing a whole mix of emotions! On the one hand, you'll be on cloud nine and feeling so excited. On the other, the stress can often get the better of you, no matter how in love you are. The planning, the preparation and the pressure can be overwhelming at times.

In amongst all of this, you may not be thinking about putting measures in place to protect yourself in the event of the relationship one day breaking down. Whilst not the most romantic of things to be thinking about, an ever-growing number of couples are turning to prenuptial agreements ('prenups') to safeguard their money and assets before they begin their marriage and post nuptial agreements thereafter. At Stowe Family Law, we have seen enquiries for prenups increase by a quarter in the last year.

It can be a tricky thing to bring up with your future spouse, as many people still see prenups as demonstrating a lack of trust in the other. The important thing to remember is that communication is key. Consider opening up with your partner about why a prenup may be the right choice for you, while acknowledging any reservations your fiancé may have.

Many couples who come to us seeking advice on prenups want more than just 'the legal bit' (i.e. draft the agreement). So here are some top tips that we usually communicate with our clients:
· Talk about it well in advance of the wedding – prenups need to be finalised a minimum of 28 days before the wedding
· Do your research – know exactly what you're asking for, why you want it, and what it will look like. Think about whether there are any children to consider. This will help you feel more confident in your decision
· Be honest – in any relationship, honesty is the best policy and creating an open line of communication is essential
· Think about and prepare answers to questions your partner may ask
· Be willing to compromise – you also need to consider your partner's needs and finances
· Listen – your partner will likely raise concerns and may become defensive or anxious, so it is important to listen and show that you understand and care.

So, what is a prenup?
Prenups are certainly worth drawing up, even though they are not legally binding in England and Wales yet. These agreements set out in writing who owns what, taking into consideration: money, property, pensions and any other assets. This can be particularly useful if you have lived together for a long time before you got engaged and you need to reassess ownership. It can be very creative and include specific belongings, as well as pets.

There are certain conditions that must be met in order for a prenup to hold weight in any court decisions should the marriage break down. For example, there must be full and honest financial disclosure, and the agreement should be entered into freely and willingly by both parties. It is also crucial that you each receive independent legal advice, and that the document is drawn up by a lawyer.

It is important to remember that prenups are living documents and should be revisited at least every five years – more often if there are major life changes such as the birth of a child, or one of you receives an inheritance. Keeping your prenup regularly updated also makes it more likely that it will be upheld in court as it will be accurate. Prenups can be discarded by the court if they are seen to be unfair, or do not meet the conditions, so doing your research and making sure that you're both on the same page is very important. Risks that they will not upheld can be mitigated by making sure you have open communication with each other and by seeking the advice of a family lawyer.

The engagement and wedding planning period can be a wonderful and magical time. But it's also a time to think about how your future as a married couple is going to look and what sort of measures you might want to put in place. It is important for you both to feel financially protected.

Of course nobody wants to think about separating when they are planning their wedding, however a prenup does not necessarily have to have the thought of divorce as it's central purpose. It can be a great way to work out your finances and assets ahead of them being legally connected and putting protective measures in place.

Hannah Mugleston is an Associate at Stowe Family Law.

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