What are they, why are they important and what is the difference between them?

Pre-nups and Post-nups

A Pre or post-nuptial agreement is a contract agreed by a couple before or after they enter marriage. This agreement stipulates how a couple’s money and assets will be divided should their marriage end in divorce. This agreement allows a couple to negotiate what they want to happen with their finances and assets. The ‘pre-nup’ is usually agreed before marriage, and a ‘post-nup’ is agreed after a marriage has taken place.

For an agreement to be valid, the following process should have taken place:

  • Both parties must have entered into the agreement willingly.
  • Both parties should have sought independent legal advice from a qualified solicitor
  • The contract must be signed within 21-28 days before the marriage (pre-nup)
  • There should be full disclosure of all financial assets from parties.
  • No children should be prejudiced within the agreement (i.e. being used as a bargaining tool).
  • Lastly and most importantly a solicitor has deemed the agreement to be fair.

Separation agreements

A separation agreement is not commonly used in the UK,  however it is an option and is a preferable alternative to the long and contentious process of seeking to ask a court to decide on how the finances should be divided between the parties. A separation agreement has recently been highlighted as the course of action Bill and Melinda Gates have decided to take when they announced their separation from their 27 years of marriage. They will be relying on a separation agreement to divide their property and assets.

These documents can be vital for saving from a long, contentious legal battle and from any animosity being built up during the separation process, and it allows each party to focus on other important issues such as child arrangements.

There may be awkward or difficult conversations to be had, but it will prevent the need for paying expensive legal fees should divorce occur.

When any of the above agreements are drawn up and executed correctly, they become legally binding documents, however, they can still be challenged in court. The court may challenge issues such as if the agreement was fairly drawn up, was either party coerced into agreeing a term or signing the agreement, and was full disclosure of assets made. Therefore, it is important an agreement is drawn up correctly and by an experienced professional as it can carry a lot of weight in the event of a divorce.

Contact Our Expert Solicitors

If you require legal advice or assistance regarding prenuptial or postnuptial agreements, please get in touch with our specialist Family Law Solicitors today. Call 020 8695 2330 , email reception@parkerarrenberg.co.uk or make an online enquiry and we will call you.