The words ‘pre-nuptial agreement’ can be a romance killer. However, while taking out a contract that acts as a financial safety net if a marriage is unsuccessful may not be the most romantic gesture, it’s certainly an agreement that should be considered. This is especially important if large amounts of wealth, children from a previous relationship or property are involved in the union. They are increasing in popularity with celebrities who want to protect their assets.
There are many common situations that require a pre-nuptial agreement and contrary to popular belief; they are not just for the rich and famous. They can protect a spouse from their partner’s existing debts, outline how property should be distributed and preserve family inheritance, and they come into play in the event of divorce or death.
However, there is a correct way to create a legally binding pre-nuptial agreement that can also help to avoid the negative connotation often associated with this type of arrangement. Here are some of the common pitfalls that should be avoided if you want to ensure your pre-nup will hold up in court:
- Agreeing to a pre-nup under duress: If one party feels pressured into signing an agreement, it can lead to the pre-nup becoming null and void
- Leaving it until the last minute: A spouse can claim they didn’t have adequate time to review the details of a pre-nup if the agreement is signed a few days before the wedding, so ensure the paperwork is sorted out at least three months before the big day
- Failing to have independent legal representation: To ensure the agreement is legally binding, each spouse will need to have independent legal representation
- Having a one-sided agreement: If a pre-nuptial agreement appears to be one-sided and biased towards a particular party, it can be deemed unconscionable and may not hold up in court
- Never make false promises: If a spouse can prove they were duped into agreeing to a pre-nup due to a promise that was later broken, the contract can also be broken
According to Jordans Solicitors to ensure your pre-nup agreement is valid you must ensure the following:
- Have offered the other full disclosure of all relevant information and documents
- Intended the agreement to regulate financial matters between you on Decree/Dissolution
- Entered into the agreement voluntarily and without undue pressure
- The Agreement would be fair having regard to both your circumstances at the time of the Decree/Dissolution.
For some, signing a pre-nuptial agreement may feel like an emotional challenge but it is important to ensure that the documents are legally binding by avoiding the hazards outlined above.
A pre-nup is similar to insurance, as while you don’t plan on having an accident, the financial safety net is in place just in case. Get legal help, work out the details early on, don’t make implausible promises, don’t set out the agreement only to suit your needs or emotionally pressure a partner and the contract will be watertight.