There have been reports in the media of late regarding the popularity of the post-nuptial agreement. The ‘post-nup’ is simply a version of the pre-nuptial agreement, but for existing married couples.
Like pre-nups, post-nups are contracts drawn up by couples outlining how assets would be divided in the event of separation or divorce. Unlike a pre-nup, they can be drawn up at any time after you get married.
Do I really need one?
It depends on individual circumstances but post-nups can be seen as worthwhile for a number of reasons:
- For couples who have entered into a second marriage, particularly by those who want to protect the children of a previous relationship.
- For couples who wanted a pre-nup, but didn’t have time or for some other reason felt it inappropriate to arrange one prior to the marriage.
- For couples experiencing problems in their marriage, if both parties wish to work on the relationship but feel their finances need to be discussed in detail, in the event the marriage cannot be rectified.
- For couples where one person has been left a significant sum of inheritance and would like clarity around what would happen to this wealth if the marriage failed.
How do they work?
Both parties must enter into a post-nup of their own free will in order for it to carry its full weight and without undue influence or pressure and they must be informed of its implications.
Both parties must have the information necessary to make an informed decision. Duress, fraud or misrepresentation could affect the validity of the document. Legal advice and disclosure are desirable.
The document will take into account the couple’s circumstances at the time of the agreement. A post-nup is not legally binding, but they are increasingly being taken into account by the courts in the event of a dispute.
How much do they cost?
It depends upon the complexity of the finances but they are intended to ensure that costs incurred upon divorce are dramatically reduced by avoiding further court proceedings.
What are the downsides?
Many may see a post-nuptial agreement as very unromantic and although both parties may agree to a post-nup, often it is led by one individual, or the family of one of them, which can cause upset and may ultimately impact negatively upon the relationship.
Because the agreements are not legally binding, in the event of a dispute, the court has the power to vary a post-nuptial settlement by amending the original terms of the agreement or by stating it is invalid.
For advice on pre or post-nuptial agreements, contact our family law team on 01792 468684 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.