What are prenuptial agreements?

Understanding prenuptial agreements

Prenuptial agreements can be an effective way of legally protecting property and money you have acquired before you marry.  Prenuptial agreements are contracts prepared prior to marriage to regulate your financial affairs in the event of separation/divorce.  This may be because one party has accrued family wealth or a business prior to marriage and they want to make sure that if they divorce or separate that this will be protected.

A prenuptial agreement must not be entered into too close to marriage.  A prenuptial agreement requires there to be financial transparency between you which may be in the form of a detailed exchange of financial documentation evidencing your respective income, capital and pension provisions.  Each party must also have the opportunity to obtain legal advice.  For these reasons, it is important to have discussions about a prenuptial agreement early and certainly not within the last few weeks immediately leading to marriage. 

A prenuptial agreement is a contract and is not a court order and so must follow contractual rules.  A prenuptial agreement does not prevent a husband or wife from issuing divorce proceedings at a later stage.  The terms of a prenuptial agreement may be confirmed as a Court Order within any later divorce proceedings.

The Court retains an overall discretion to make orders which are different to the terms of a prenuptial agreement but this discretion will be rarely exercised.

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