Prenuptial agreements are more common than you think

Prenuptial agreements are more common than you think

 A fifth of UK couples who had their first wedding since 2000 have a prenuptial agreement (or ‘pre-nup’). 

This latest research commissioned by The Marriage Foundation is thought to be the first of its kind which offers a real and genuine insight into the personal decisions that couples make about their relationship. How a couple decides to manage their financial affairs is completely private to them and trying to collect data on this is tricky to say the least – so it is understandable why we have absolutely no idea how popular pre-nups are (until now).

With many weddings having sadly been postponed due to the pandemic, if you have a 2022 wedding to look forward to then there is plenty of time to put any necessary plans in motion. Having time on your side is particularly helpful as one of the factors to consider when entering into a pre-nup is timing. It is important you do not leave it too late.

What is a prenuptial agreement?

A prenuptial agreement is a document entered into before marriage that sets out how a couple’s assets will be divided should their relationship subsequently break down and/or set out arrangements for how to manage their finances and other practical matters during the marriage.  It is a type of relationship agreement – you can read more about what these are here.

Pre-nups are likely to be upheld in most cases so long as certain factors have been considered by the couple when entering into it. We can discuss this with you to ensure the right criteria is met.

Who can get a prenuptial agreement?

Anyone!  There is no need to qualify or be eligible to get a pre-nup, but there are certain situations which might motivate one or both future spouses to protect their wealth before tying the knot. For example:

1.       When one or both spouses have previously been married – they may wish to better plan in the event of a relationship breakdown and/or protect their assets for the benefit of any children from a previous relationship.

2.        Entering into a marriage when one spouse has significantly more wealth than the other which was built up prior to their relationship.

3.        When one or both spouses are expecting to receive significant wealth in the future such as through family inheritance, career progression or financial investment.

4.        Marrying later in life as this can increase the chance of 1 and 2 above becoming relevant.

    Interestingly, the Marriage Foundation research reveals that 44% of individuals in a higher managerial role had signed a pre-nup and the prevalence of pre-nups amongst couples in the other social groups were fairly evenly distributed.   This confirms that pre-nups are not just reserved for the super-rich and famous, which is a common misconception.

    Pre-nups provide greater clarity as to how assets may be divided upon separation and can therefore help avoid the unpredictability, potential legal costs and emotional stress often associated with an acrimonious separation.

    If you would like to discuss the benefits of having a pre-nuptial agreement or any other issues covered in this article please do not hesitate to contact the team – we would be happy to help.

    Latest figures reveal marriage rates fall as couples opt to cohabit instead

    Latest figures reveal marriage rates fall as couples opt to cohabit instead

    Recent data published from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show that the number of opposite-sex marriages had fallen by 47% since 1972 whilst cohabiting couple families continue to be the fastest-growing family type.

    It is notable that same-sex couples are in fact bucking this trend as the number of married same-sex couples has doubled since 2017. 

    Despite this surge in marriages amongst same-sex couples, the overall share of married couple families (for opposite-sex and same-sex couples) has declined over the past decade.

    The ONS commented that the long-term decline in the rate of marriages was likely to be as a result of more men and women delaying marriage or couples choosing to cohabit instead.

    With the number of couples opting to just live together increasing, it is important to raise awareness of the fact that unmarried couples do not have as much protection compared to married couples.  This means many people, to their surprise, could be left financially vulnerable if their relationship ends.

    However all is not lost! Whilst we wait patiently for the current law to be reformed, a cohabitation agreement, also known as living together agreement, can be a great option.

    This type of relationship agreement can set out how couples wish to arrange their financial affairs and responsibilities during and after their relationship.  It provides couples with certainty as to where they will stand financially in the unfortunate event of their relationship ending in the future. 

    If you would like to discuss putting a cohabitation agreement in place or if you have any other queries about the issues covered in this article please do not hesitate to contact the team – we would be happy to help.