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Prenuptial Agreements

Things to know before signing a prenuptial agreement

What do Phil Collins, Bernie Ecclestone, Kiefer Sutherland and Paul McCartney, besides the international fame have in common?... They all lost millions after a divorce. How could they have prevented this from happening?... They could have avoided the significant financial loss by signing a prenuptial agreement.

Prenuptial agreements (more commonly called prenups) are contracts signed before marriage for insuring property and wealth in case of divorce or death of one of the spouses. Although it is not currently enforceable in the UK, a prenup is still used by the courts to determine the division of assets, and the alimony or spousal maintenance. With the increasing number of marriages ending in divorce, you should insure your assets like you insure your property from fire or any other natural disaster.

Take a look at the frequently asked questions and things to know before signing a prenuptial agreement.

Is the presence of a solicitor necessary?

Yes, it is necessary to have your solicitor present while signing a premarital agreement. Your solicitor will advise you what to include in the contract. The solicitor's experience will prevent you from making some of the biggest mistakes people make in signing a prenuptial agreement. Also, your solicitor will notice and inform you if you are being manipulated into signing an unfair contract. The court takes into consideration whether the party with much to lose understands the nature of the prenup.

What is the difference between antenuptial and prenuptial agreements?

There is no difference. The terms are synonyms and can be used interchangeably.

What are the legal conditions that must be fulfilled when signing a premarital agreement?

1. The premarital agreement must be in writing. Prenuptial agreements in oral form are not valid.
2. Signing a prenuptial agreement must be voluntary. Signing a prenup under pressure makes the prenup invalid.
3. The prenuptial agreement must be fair, otherwise the English courts may not uphold it.
4. Both spouses must be well informed of their assets, wealth and liabilities. Each party must disclose the full financial information before the agreement. They each should have separate legal representation.
5. The contract must be concluded by both parties and signed in the presence of a notary public.

Is signing prenuptial agreements obligatory?

No, prenuptial agreements are not obligatory, but they are highly recommended.

Who needs a prenuptial agreement?

Prenuptial agreements are for people who want to protect assets they gained individually or inherited from family. Although prenuptial agreements are mostly signed by the rich, signing a premarital agreement is important for people without a lot of property, too. In addition, those who have been previously married, and have any children from the prior marriage should sign a prenup. This ensures that the children are protected, just in case the coming marriage fails sometime in the future.

Can you include child support, child custody as part of the prenuptial agreement?

No, prenups cannot include stipulations for child support or custody. Neither can it touch visiting arrangements. It only covers finances, property and marriage responsibilities that are fair and legal.

How much does prenuptial agreements cost?

The amount of money that your solicitor will charge for signing a premarital agreement depends on the assets you own, where you live, the time it will take to complete all the necessary legal measures to make the contract valid, and any existing problems with your property may increase the price of a prenuptial agreement. Some firms provide free initial consultations to determine the requirements you need to prepare depending on your situation according to UK laws.

In case of divorce can the judge make some parts of the contract invalid?

Yes, the courts may decide to make some part of the contract invalid if a part of the premarital agreement is one sided or unfair. The Law Commission is looking into making the prenups legally enforceable.

Can I hold my spouse liable for cheating with a prenuptial agreement?

No, you can't. According to the law keeping a spouse liable for being unfaithful will not be legally binding. Other clauses that aren't legally valid are holding your spouse accountable for taking drugs, teaching your kids under a certain religion, etc.

Can a prenup be cancelled?

Yes, a prenup may contain provisions about cancelling the premarital agreement under some circumstances. A prenup can also expire if it is signed for a limited amount of time. As long as both parties agree to the terms.

Can a prenup be changed?

Yes, a prenup can be changed with an addendum with an assistance of a solicitor. The conditions necessary for changing a prenup are: both sides must be present as well as witnesses, before signing the change in the prenup agreement.

Can I decide the distribution of my estate after my death in a prenup agreement?

Yes. If you want to include such a provision you can. The way distribution of property is regulated in most countries is the property is distributed according to the will of the deceased. If the deceased didn't leave a will, then his or her property will be distributed equally between his spouse and children, according to law.

We didn't sign a prenuptial agreement, can we sign a contract after getting married?

Yes, it is called a postnuptial agreement.

Can we sign a prenup a few days before the marriage?

Signing a prenuptial contract closely before the day of the marriage is highly not recommended as the court may deem that the contract was signed under duress. Thus, the 21-day rule needs to be observed. This means that the prenup has to be signed 21 days before the day of the wedding.

Tips before signing a prenuptial contract:

1. Choose an experienced solicitor in the field of family law. 'Do-It-Yourself' prenups are possible, but highly risky.
2. Both parties should keep a copy of the prenuptial contract and one copy should be left at the solicitor's office.
3. Do not hide anything about your property before signing a prenuptial agreement, as hiding property may make the contract invalid.
4. Inform your spouse about your debts, as hiding debts may also lead to making the contract invalid.
5. All the terms in the prenup should be fair to both parties.


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