Relationship Agreements

At FM Family Law, as well as all our expertise in divorce law we also look after couples who are not married or who do not wish to divorce.

Our lawyers provide you with expert advice regarding various agreements you may want to enter into with your current or future partner.  With all the agreements described below, it is important you receive legal advice to fully understand your position, rights and obligations.

Pre nuptial and post nuptial agreements

A pre nuptial agreement is a contract signed before a marriage.  It sets out what each party can expect during the marriage and if the marriage comes to an end through divorce or death.

A post nuptial agreement is a contract signed after a marriage has taken place.  Like a pre nuptial agreement, its sets out what each person can expect financially during the marriage and if the marriage comes to an end through divorce or death.

These agreements are not currently binding in England and Wales- meaning that entering into the agreement does not automatically mean you will always be held exactly to what the agreement says.  Over the course of the last 10 years or so though, the English courts  are placing more and more weight on the agreements and in some cases, these agreements will be binding if a divorce/ dissolution takes place.

The Law Commission has published guidance on factors to be taken into account when putting an agreement in place.  Those guidelines include that the terms of the agreement are fair and take account of any children of the family, and also include:

  • Sharing information about your financial positions before entering into the agreement;
  • Having the opportunity to take comprehensive legal advice on the terms of the agreement before it is entered into
  • Entering into the agreement freely and without pressure or duress
  • In the case of pre nuptial agreements, signing the agreement at least 21 days before the date of the marriage.

Living together/ cohabitation agreements

Many people argue that the law in England and Wales does not currently do enough to protect unmarried couples and that people can be left financially vulnerable if a relationship ends. These agreements can be entered into by a couple who live together and want to arrange their financial affairs and responsibilities during and after their relationship but who are not married or civil partners.  Entering into living together agreements can provide both parties with certainty about where they will stand financially if the relationship ends.

Separation Agreements

Not all couples wants to divorce or dissolve their civil partnership when their relationship ends.  Sometimes, a couple wants to have some ‘breathing space’ before taking steps to begin a divorce.  In either case, financial security and certainty can still be a worry.  Entering into a separation agreement can deal with some of these worries.

A separation agreement is effectively a contract between a couple which sets out how they intend to deal with their financial claims and obligations.  The idea is that the terms of this separation agreement can later be ‘translated’ into a court order as part of the divorce process, bringing to an end the financial claims a couple has against each other.

To make sure a court will later approve the terms of the separation agreement as part of a divorce/ dissolution process, there are certain guidelines which it is important to follow.  Both parties entering into the agreement must do so freely and without pressure from the other.  Each party must have had the opportunity to seek legal advice before signing the agreement and there should be a sharing of relevant financial information.