Pre-nups should become legally binding

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Family lawyers have welcomed the Law Commision’s proposals to make ‘qualifying’ pre-nuptial agreements binding. Currently, pre-nuptial agreements are not legally enforceable in the UK, although the Court does often take them into account. The Law Commission’s proposals would, if enacted, enshrine pre-nuptial agreements in law, increasing certainty for splitting couples and reducing the number of long, expensive and very often bitter court battles.

For the first time, this would mean that couples would be able to make legally binding decisions about the distribution of their assets in the event that their relationship broke down. However, for a pre-nup to be binding, certain ‘qualifying’ conditions would have to be met. This would mean that the pre-nup would have to be signed by both parties no less than 28 days before the wedding and would have to contain a statement that the couple understand the legally binding nature of the agreement. In addition both parties must have had legal advice and must have disclosed full details of all assets and financial interests. Under the proposals, providing a ‘qualifying’ pre-nup provides adequately for the needs of all parties and any children, then the court would have no discretion to deviate from it.

If the proposals are implemented, then the number of couples making pre-nuptial agreements is expected to increase dramatically and some lawyers are even expecting them to become the norm, particularly amongst those marrying later in life and those remarrying. Whilst the proposals are likely to be implemented, it may be some time before they come into force. In the meantime, pre-nuptial agreements are increasingly holding sway with the courts, so if you are about to get married they are still certainly worth thinking about.

If you think you might benefit from a free consultation with one of our family law solicitors to discuss this, or any family issue, then call Nicola or Gillian now on 01282 433241 (Burnley office), or call Jane on 01282 864500 (Colne office) or alternatively make an enquiry through our general enquiries page.