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Are Pre-Nuptial Agreements Legal in England and Wales?

Many people ask if pre-nuptial agreements are legal in England and Wales and whether there is any benefit to having one. Read on to find out their legal status and what benefits they can offer.

Pre-nuptial agreements are not automatically enforceable in England and Wales. If there is a dispute over financial arrangements following a divorce the court has the power to override the terms of any pre-nuptial agreement.

Following a decision of the Supreme Court in 2010, however, a pre-nuptial agreement which has been properly prepared by an expert Family Lawyer is very likely to be upheld in court. The court said as long as a pre-nuptial agreement has been entered into freely by both parties with an understanding as to the implications, the court should give effect to its terms unless that would not be fair.

In order to ensure your pre-nuptial agreement has the best prospect of being upheld by the court on a divorce it is usually advisable to ensure it has been signed in good time before the wedding and certainly not less than 21 days prior to the marriage.

The terms of the agreement must be reasonable and not leave either party or the children in a situation of hardship. Proper provision for all parties must be included in the Pre-Nuptial Agreement otherwise it will not be upheld by the court that will then impose its own decision. What this might be is always difficult to predict.

Both people must have entered into the pre-nuptial agreement of their own free will and not under any form of duress. If the couple have each received independent legal advice from their own Family Lawyer this can help satisfy the court that they entered into the pre-nuptial agreement fully understanding the implications.

So despite not being automatically enforceable in a court of law in England or Wales, pre-nuptial agreements can provide an extremely useful means of recording how a couple wants their finances to be split in the event of a divorce or separation.

Slater and Gordon Lawyers offer an initial consultation about pre-nuptial and post-nuptial agreements and offer both flexible pricing and fixed price pre-nups and post-nups. Call us on freephone 0800 916 9055 or contact us online and we will call you.

Also see: Why Have a Pre-Nup or Post-Nup if it’s Not Automatically Enforceable?

Slater and Gordon Lawyers have 1,450 staff and offices in London, Manchester, Liverpool, Birmingham, Sheffield, Milton Keynes, Bristol, Derby, Merseyside, Cardiff, Cambridge, Edinburgh, Halifax, Newcastle, Wakefield and meeting rooms in Bramhall, Cheshire and in Hull, Yorkshire.

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