In much of the rest of Europe and outside Europe pre-nuptial agreements have been commonly used to regulate what should happen to a couple’s assets and property in the event that they were to divorce later.
In England and Wales historically they have not been very popular. However, with the increase in the number of international marriages and second marriages we have seen a substantial rise in the number of pre-nuptial agreements that we draft for our clients.
Recent cases have shown that the courts are likely to be much more willing to enforce a validly entered into nuptial agreement. The Law Commission has recently reported on the subject. The circumstances in which such an agreement is entered into are very important. If you or your partner is interested in a pre-nuptial or pre-civil partnership agreement you should take legal advice early and some months before you plan to have your marriage or civil partnership ceremony.
However, you can still enter into a post-nuptial or post-civil partnership agreement after the ceremony and the indications from case law and the Law Commission report are that these will be treated in much the same way as agreements entered into prior to the marriage or civil partnership.
We have particular expertise at drafting agreements, including where there is an international element and can liaise as necessary with lawyers abroad as to the best way to protect our clients’ interests. In some cases it may be necessary to have agreements in more than one country.