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How a pre-nuptial agreement can avoid surprises down the line

View profile for Sam Miles
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Today marks the start of international marriage week, celebrating the love and union of two people intending to spend their lives together. If you’re engaged and on the road to wedded bliss, then Congratulations! While organising the venue, flowers and seating plans, a few legal aspects often get overlooked.

When entering into a marriage, the legal terms seem like a by-product of a grand event involving cake, flowers, dresses and bad toasts. It’s important to keep the legal contract in mind when planning the event. In the eyes of the law, a marriage will void any previous Will that either of you may have. While no-one (hopefully) goes into marriage with the aim of divorce, it is a way of laying out who should get what if the marriage was to break down. For example, if one of you enter into the marriage having inherited a family home or heirloom, a pre-nuptial agreement can stipulate what happens to certain assets. Imagine inheriting your parent’s home which they bought before you were born, raised you in, and left to you upon their deaths. Your spouse may have met and gotten along with your parents, but if the spark fizzes out after a few years of marriage, would you want to sell your beloved family home to give your spouse half of its value?

Sam Miles, Family Partner at Warner Goodman LLP shares her views on the benefits of creating a pre-nuptial agreement. “When entering into a marriage contract, it is worth considering the risks of leaving your assets unprotected. By agreeing to a pre-nuptial agreement, both parties agree to total transparency in what they bring to the table, so for some couples it can be a way of opening discussion about finances that many partnerships do not have, until one or both of them reach financial difficulties.”

Celebrities are often ridiculed for their over-eagerness to sign pre-nuptial agreement just moments after putting the engagement ring on, but there have been numerous examples of when signing the document before the wedding can save a lot of pain, should anything go wrong. A prime example of a badly done pre-nuptial agreement was that of Steven Spielberg and his wife Amy Irving, which was written on a napkin. This was disregarded in court, and Irving was awarded $100million, which was half of his worth at the time.

Sam concludes, “So if you feel that you would like to protect your assets from outside of your marriage, a pre-nuptial agreement could be worth discussing with your spouse-to-be, especially if either of you have inherited anything that you wouldn’t to lose, or if either of you have external businesses, which can be specifically protected by a clause in the pre-nuptial agreement.”

If you’re looking for advice on mediation or divorce you can contact Sam or the family team on 02380 717431 or click on their section of the website here.


This is for information purposes only and is no substitute for, and should not be interpreted as, legal advice.  All content was correct at the time of publishing and we cannot be held responsible for any changes that may invalidate this article.