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Impending Legal Changes To Prenuptial Agreements5th Feb 2014

by on 5th Feb 2014


family law solicitor Emma Hamilton ColeGrowing numbers of couples are enquiring about prenuptial agreements, report family law solicitors Coles Miller.

Demand for ‘prenups’ has been rising steadily - even before the legal changes being discussed by the government.

Prenuptial agreements - although not officially binding under in English law - are gaining increasing traction in the courts.

Judges are now more likely to take notice of prenuptial agreements and follow reasonable terms outlined in them in a bid to settle divorces faster and with less argument.

Coles Miller Partner Emma Hamilton Cole, who leads the firm’s family law team, said the official recognition of prenuptial agreements in statute was long overdue.

“This is a groundswell of opinion that has been growing for a really long time,” said Ms Hamilton Cole who wrote her first prenuptial agreement around 15 years ago.

“Many people think that prenuptial agreements are unromantic but there is definitely a demand for them,” she added.

Prenups have been traditionally associated with the wealthy - not least because of all the publicity surrounding celebrity divorces.

They have been typically used to protect the assets of an individual who is marrying someone less wealthy or to ensure that assets are retained for the children of previous relationships.

“This is probably as a result of second and third marriages being more common,” said Ms Hamilton Cole.

“If people have had a messy divorce, you can bet that they will ask about prenuptial agreements the next time around.”

It was understandable that some people were still reticent about prenups, in the same way that discussing wills was still a difficult conversation.

But just like a will, a prenuptial agreement had an important role to play, needed to be drawn up by a qualified solicitor and also needed to be reviewed regularly in case family circumstances changed, she added.

Coles Miller recommends couples considering prenups to:

  • Be scrupulously honest and transparent about disclosing their financial assets in full. Failure to do so not only undermines the strength of the prenup but also calls into question whether the marriage is starting on a sufficiently firm foundation.
  • Plan ahead - prenuptial agreements drafted in a rush immediately before a wedding could be weakened by claims of bullying or coercion.
  • Ensure that that the agreement builds in pre-defined trigger points for regular review in case family circumstances change. Making reviews a matter of course also helps to reduce any tensions that may arise if either party wants to change the terms of the agreement.
  • Be certain that the agreement is being taken out for the right reasons. They can really assist in helping to resolve difficult issues should the worst happen. They are legal documents and must be viewed as such.

Dorset solicitors Coles Miller LLP have five offices in Bournemouth, Poole, Broadstone, Charminster and Wimborne.

The family department offers a wide range of legal services to help couples separating and divorcing, including collaborative law, mediation, injunctions and change of name.

For expert advice on family law, contact divorce solicitor and mediator Emma Hamilton Cole, 01202 694891.

This document is not intended to constitute and should not be used as a substitute for legal advice on any specific matter. No liability for the accuracy of the content of this document, or the consequences of relying on it, is assumed by the author. If you seek further information, please contact Managing Partner Neil Andrews at Coles Miller Solicitors LLP.