Do we need a pre-nup?

Article

16 June, 2009

My fiancé and I are not yet married but are buying a house together. Would it be advisable to get some kind of legal agreement about who gets the property if we break up?

There are a number of factors that should be considered at this stage. Firstly when jointly buying a property it is important to take independent legal advice from a Conveyancing Solicitor who will be able to advise how best to protect both parties' interests. Most couples tend to choose an option whereby the property is held "jointly" which does not reflect any unequal contributions which may have been made, this can often cause problems if the relationship later breaks down.

Although no couple would wish to concentrate upon what may happen if the relationship or a marriage broke down, it is sensible to give this some serious consideration at the outset. The myth of the "common law wife" remains and it can be devastating to find out that there is in fact no protection for unmarried couples.

It is estimated that one in six couples in the UK live together but don't marry and this figure is steadily increasing. Existing law does not provide for non-marital relationships breaking down or for either party being at risk of losing their home. It is therefore important that all unmarried and those who intend to marry consider their financial position rather than leaving themselves financially vulnerable in the future.

One option a couple due to marry can consider in order to protect their interests is to prepare a prenuptial agreement. Prenuptial agreements are still not binding under English Law. However, in certain circumstances the Courts are taking them into account when considering Divorce Proceedings.

In order to maximise the effect of having a prenuptial agreement both husband and wife should consider the following checklist:-

  1. The couple should have independent legal advice.
  2. The couples should also provide each other with full financial disclosure and it is best practice to attach all the financial disclosure to the agreement.
  3. The prenuptial agreement must be fair.
  4. There should not be any duress (on either side) before entering into the agreement.

Prenuptial agreements are not meant to be ever lasting and good practice would show that they would only last until the birth of the couples' first child or for approximately five years.

For more information please visit Prenuptial Agreements, for advice please contact our Family Law Solicitors on freephone 0800 975 2463 or by email today.

The Family Law team at Forbes Solicitors includes specialist family and divorce solicitors who offer advice on all areas of family law, including divorce,division of assets following marriage breakdown, cohabitation and prenuptial agreements, ancillary relief, civil partnerships, child law and change of name deeds.

For a free consultation call Forbes Solicitors on freephone 0800 975 2463 or by email today.

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