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Do I need a prenup for my second marriage?

Protecting your assets when you re-marry

The most up-to-date statistics published by the Office for National Statistics have now confirmed that marriage rates among older people have continued to increase.

We know that the ages at which people are marrying has been increasing over recent years. Figures for 2016 show that more and more over 50s are getting married. This may be because we are now living longer, healthier lives but there is also the added incentive of inheritance tax rules now allowing couples who are married or in a civil partnership to transfer their tax-free allowances between each other.

The average age for marriage is now mid-to-late 30s – which has been steadily rising since the 1970s. Meanwhile, marriage rates at younger ages are falling.

What follows is that spouses these days are more likely to have built up substantial assets eg. business, property and pensions – through investment, success in business, or inheritance. Older couples and divorcees are also more likely to have children from previous marriages or other relationships, who they wish to leave assets to on death.

With it currently estimated that 42% of marriages end in divorce, and in 2014, almost all (92%) of the individuals marrying aged 65 and over were divorcees, widows or widowers, there is a lot more at stake in terms of financial consequences if the marriage does not last.

As a result, more couples are turning to prenuptial agreements to protect their financial interests. And whilst not currently legally binding in the UK, if drafted properly and fairly, these agreements can significantly influence a divorce settlement should the marriage break down.

Six reasons to consider a pre or postnuptial agreement

  1. You have pre-marital assets. Couples can agree how assets acquired before the relationship will be divided, or not, if they were to divorce.
  2. You own a business. Business owners can ring-fence business assets they do not wish to share in a divorce settlement.
  3. One of you has significant debts. A pre or postnuptial agreement can prevent a person’s assets being used to cover a spouses’ debts.
  4. You have children from a previous relationship. A prenuptial agreement can ring-fence assets you wish children from a previous relationship to receive.
  5. To agree how finances will be managed. To create a nuptial agreement, a couple must have an honest dialogue about their collective assets and finances – and how these will be managed during and after the marriage. These discussions can help prevent misunderstandings or resentment in the future.
  6. To aid a more amicable divorce. Divorce can be upsetting and stressful. Having an advance agreement that sets out how finances will be divided on divorce can prevent future disputes and costly litigation.

Do I need a prenuptial agreement?

In many cases, it takes a major life event like separation or divorce to prompt individuals to think about the merits of putting in place an agreement, by which point it is too late. Protecting your interests by entering into a marital agreement (a pre or post nuptial agreement) can help avoid costly court proceedings if things do not go to plan.

It may not be a particularly romantic topic, and a difficult one to broach, but having a discussion at an early stage, and getting an agreement drawn up by a family law solicitor can go a long way towards avoiding stressful and costly court proceedings later down the line.

Particularly for a second (or subsequent) marriage, or where parties have built up significant assets by the time of marriage, or have children by previous relationships, a prenuptial agreement is advised so that spouses are aware of the value of any property that they agree would not be shared in the event of separation or divorce.

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Contact a family law specialist

Established in 1888, Clarke Willmott’s family law team has longstanding experience of dealing with these issues. As one of the UK’s largest specialist private client and family law teams with offices in London, Manchester, Bristol, Cardiff, Birmingham, Southampton and Taunton, we are close at hand to help you. Our Family, Private Capital and Corporate solicitors work closely to ensure proper consideration and advice is given, particularly in complex matters which may involve trusts or business assets.

Call 0800 422 0123 or contact us online for a free and confidential initial consultation.

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Emily Finn


Emily is a Solicitor in our Divorce and Family Law team, dealing with divorce and associated financial matters, nuptial and cohabitation agreements, private children matters including child relocation, and domestic violence injunctions.
View profile for Emily Finn >

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