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Protect your assets with a prenuptial or post-nuptial agreement

Prenuptial agreements can provide greater certainty of financial outcomes, should your marriage end in divorce. Therefore, if you are about to get married it would be wise to enter into a prenuptial agreement beforehand.

Prenuptial agreements are now very much encouraged by the courts, as demonstrated by high-profile cases such as Radmacher vs Granatino and MacCleod vs MacCleod.

What is the difference between a prenuptial and post-nuptial agreement?

A prenuptial agreement is a contract entered into prior to marriage, which sets out the financial terms of the relationship. A postnuptial agreement does exactly the same thing, only it is created during your marriage rather than beforehand.

So, if you are married and don’t have a prenuptial agreement in place, entering into a post-nuptial agreement during your marriage can also significantly influence a subsequent divorce settlement.

What is the purpose of a prenup?

The purpose of a prenuptial or post-nuptial agreement is:

  1. To protect assets acquired before marriage
  2. To protect business or trust assets
  3. To protect your assets from your partner’s debts
  4. To protect your children’s financial interests
  5. To agree how you will manage your finances between you
  6. To agree the division of finances should your relationship breakdown

1. To protect pre-marital assets

If you or your spouse has significant assets acquired prior to your current relationship, there is no guarantee that these assets will be protected from division on divorce. This is because of well-established principles applied by the family court based upon sharing and needs. ‘Non-matrimonial’ (or ‘non-marital’) property is not defined with any certainty in case law. This is why many couples choose to enter into a pre or post nuptial agreement to record their agreement on how their assets will be divided should they separate or divorce.

2. To protect business assets

Likewise, business or trust assets are not necessarily protected on divorce, but a prenuptial agreement can be used to ‘ring-fence’ business assets and agree that these will not be shared if you divorce. This can help protect an interest in a business and can also help avoid a situation where an ex-spouse is awarded an interest in a business and has to participate in its running.

3. If you or your partner has debts

If you or your new spouse has significant debts, either now or in the future, a pre- or post-nuptial agreement is a good idea to protect the other’s assets from being used to satisfy those debts.

4. To protect the financial interests of your children

An existing Will is automatically revoked if you marry again, so new spouses are advised to make new Wills. This is particularly important where one or both of you are coming to the marriage with assets, or if the intention is to leave assets to anyone other than your new spouse, for example to children from your previous relationship.

A Will can be made in contemplation of marriage, but if this is not done, any existing Wills will be revoked on marriage and assets might not end up with the people they were intended for.

A prenup or post-nuptial agreement can be used to specify that you both agree to make Wills, in order to end up with the result you both desire. A prenuptial agreement can also protect the financial interests of children from your previous relationships by ensuring that certain assets are ring-fenced for them. The agreement can also set out what should happen to you and your spouse’s assets on death, to support the provisions made in your Wills and clarify what should happen to certain assets to protect your children’s and grandchildren’s inheritance prospects.

On divorce, the whole Will is not revoked but any gifts to, or appointment of, the ex-spouse as executor will be automatically revoked, This is why a review of your Will is also advised to ensure it will still achieve your desired result.

5. To agree how finances will be managed during the marriage

A prenuptial agreement is also often used to agree and record how a couple intends to support themselves financially during the marriage. For example, whether you and your spouse wish to pay for household expenses equally or in proportion to your income or assets.

Having discussions about these matters at an early stage can help ensure that you are both on a level footing and going into the marriage with a clear understanding of how your finances will be managed in your marriage and in the event of separation or divorce.

Discussing financial issues can be one of the most difficult aspects of marriage but having these conversations for the purpose of preparing a prenuptial agreement can actually help improve communication and strengthen your relationship.

6. Amicable separation or divorce

No one enters marriage expecting it to fail, however agreeing in advance how your finances would be divided if it did can help avoid a great deal of uncertainty, time and stress if the marriage does eventually break down.

It also gives you the freedom to agree your own terms, which would not be the case if your financial settlement ended up in contested financial remedy proceedings, where a solution could be imposed on you by the court.

Litigation is generally costly, protracted, time consuming and stressful. Whilst the preparation of a pre- or post-nuptial agreement will incur costs, it is usually much less expensive to negotiate and draft one than to litigate about the division of finances should the relationship break down.

How Clarke Willmott can help you

A pre or post-nuptial agreement can only be drafted by a qualified solicitor. We can advise you on how best to create an agreement between you that is fair, clear and dignified for both parties.

If you own a business, have inherited wealth, property or other assets you regard as being ‘outside’ of the marriage, we can also provide expert legal advice on how to protect those interests in the event of a divorce.

We also have international divorce specialists on hand who can draft prenuptial agreements for international couples and can advise couples with existing prenups whether these agreements are enforceable in the country where the divorce is taking place.

Why choose us for a prenup or post-nuptial agreement?

Our clients choose us to advise on prenuptial and post-nuptial agreements because:

  • Our Family Law team has a sensitive and caring approach
  • We can access the entire firm’s legal expertise across many areas of law
  • We specialise in financial arrangements and divorce involving businesses
  • We are highly rated for family law in Legal 500 and Chambers Guide
  • As members of Resolution we are firmly committed to its principles
  • We have trained collaborative lawyers and mediators on the team
  • We always work efficiently and cost effectively

Contact a family law solicitor

For advice on entering into a prenup or post-nuptial agreement, call 0800 422 0123 or contact us online for a confidential initial consultation. We have family law specialists in London, Manchester, Bristol, Cardiff, Birmingham, Southampton and Taunton.

Commonly asked questions about prenuptial agreements

What is a prenuptial agreement?

A prenuptial agreement (also referred to as an antenuptial, pre-marital or pre-civil agreement) is an agreement reached by a couple before they marry or enter into a civil partnership.

A prenup sets out exactly who owns what out of all the couple’s belongings, assets, property and money. It then lists how these will be divided if the relationship should break down.

Without a prenup, in the event of a divorce, the courts starting position will generally be to divide everything equally between both partners – although the first priority will be to ensure the needs and welfare of any children are met. If one partner has brought more assets into the marriage than the other, they may feel resentful at the idea of an equal split.

Although some people may feel a prenuptial agreement is a little cold hearted, it is actually extremely sensible. Many couples find it awkward to talk about money and finances within their relationship, let alone when they’re breaking up. However, a prenup provides clear instructions, drawn up while both parties are in a reasonable frame of mind rather than in the emotional turmoil of a separation – and can give both partners reassurance that they’re protected for the future.

Who should get a prenup?

You should think about setting up a prenup if you:

  • Have been married before and want to protect assets (for yourself or children).
  • Have children from an earlier relationship and want to protect their inheritance and keep certain items or assets for them.
  • Are bringing assets and/or property to your marriage that would be difficult to split.
  • Have your own business or investments and want to keep control of them.
  • Want to safeguard money or assets that you are expecting to receive in a future inheritance.

If your partner has incurred debts before your marriage, you may want to include a clause in your prenup to assert that you are not responsible for those debts. This will ensure that they are not repaid out of your share of the joint assets.

Prenuptial agreements are particularly useful when one partner has, or has expectations of receiving, considerably more assets than the other. For example, if you are owner or part-owner of a family farm, business or land, or are expecting a significant inheritance. Or if you already have a successful business and are marrying later in life, or have been married before.

Are prenuptial agreements legally binding in the UK?

Currently in England and Wales, prenuptial agreements are not legally binding. However, if done correctly the court will take them into consideration when agreeing your divorce settlement.

If you want to make sure your prenuptial agreement is enforceable, you and your partner must both have taken legal advice independent of each other. Your solicitors need to have advised you on the contents of the agreement and how it would affect you both if you decided to divorce.

This is important, because if the court believes one of you did not get the right advice, and that this put them at a disadvantage, it can decide to ignore the prenuptial agreement when reaching a decision.

Can I get a prenup after marriage?

‘Pre’ means ‘before’, so a prenuptial agreement is one that is set up and signed before your wedding or civil partnership. However, it’s also possible to set up a similar arrangement if you are already married, which is called a postnuptial agreement. This can be agreed at any time during your marriage.

Like a prenuptial agreement, a postnup isn’t legally binding but it would be considered by the court when making decisions on the division of assets on divorce, as long as it has been signed by both partners willingly, after they’ve each taken independent legal advice. If done correctly postnups are seen as more binding than prenups, as you’re already married, For example, there are likely to be reduced concerns of duress.

How does a prenuptial agreement affect a Will?

Ideally, an up-to-date Will, would reflect the terms contained in a prenuptial agreement and vice-versa. If someone dies and their prenup contradicts the terms of their Will,  it may give rise to other claims; so it is important for your solicitors to work together.


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Rayner Grice


Rayner advises on the issues that arise for an individual following the breakdown of a relationship in relation to divorce/civil partnership dissolution, their financial affairs and their children.
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Adam Maguire


Adam specialises in divorce and family law. He advises clients regarding all aspects of private family law including cohabitation, separation, divorce and related financial issues, disputes concerning children and nuptial agreements.
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Philippa Yeo


Philippa is committed to helping couples navigate all aspects of the legal process on the breakdown of their relationship in a pragmatic, collaborative and family-focused way including supporting couples to reach arrangements for their children and achieve healthy future co-parenting relationships.
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Clare has built her practice with a commitment to helping her clients resolve their issues in a constructive and conciliatory way. In doing so, she will always have regard to the longterm hopes and aspirations for the family as a whole, whilst of course protecting her client’s interest.
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