Is a pre-marital agreement worth it?
One of the main queries we receive in relation to these increasingly common instructions, is are they worth it? The aim of this article is to explain the pros and cons to help you decide.
Clarity and certainty
Parties entering into this agreement can make it clear to one another which assets belong to whom and which assets will not be shared during the marriage or upon a future divorce. This should save both parties the uncertainty, cost and stress of litigating the matter at a later stage.
As parties are required to provide financial disclosure of their assets and income, both parties have transparency from the outset which should help them navigate the marriage in a better and more informed way.
Similarly you can plan what you intend to do in the marriage. If one party during the marriage gives up a potentially lucrative career to care for the family, that person should be entitled to a greater share of the assets on the breakdown of the marriage to reflect their loss of earning power going forward. It is often difficult to convince the court to award an element of “compensation” for loss of career in normal circumstances, but provision for compensation in the pre-marital agreement is likely to be upheld by the court.
Parties can seek to protect certain assets such as inherited assets or family heirlooms and gifts, which may otherwise be taken into account on divorce, with no pre-marital agreement in place.
A pre-marital agreement provides you with the freedom to agree your own terms without the court imposing a solution on you.
Whilst significant weight is currently being placed upon pre-marital agreements which are entered into properly, it may not necessarily be binding and the court retains jurisdiction.
It may also seem very unromantic to consider and negotiate a pre-marital agreement at a time when you are in love and planning your wedding or civil partnership. Preparing for a marriage can be stressful, and the added pressure of considering financial issues and negotiating the terms of a pre-marital agreement can put strain on a relationship, as can be seen in the recent case of MN v AN .
Ultimately, pre-marital agreements can be very beneficial if entered into correctly. A pre-marital agreement is crucial in a case with significant wealth but can also be worthwhile in the more modest family wherein one party may have received an inheritance or gift from a family member.
Divorce can be unpredictable at the best of times, and acrimonious litigation is always a risk. Having a pre-marital agreement in place can mean less is left to chance.