The short answer is yes. You can have a pre-nuptial agreement prior to having a civil partnership. These are often referred to as Pre-Partnership Agreements but operate in exactly the same way as a pre-nuptial agreement.
Your future civil partner and you set out what you wish to happen to your finances in the event that your civil partnership ends which is known as a dissolution.
Neither pre-nuptial agreements nor pre-civil partnership agreements are automatically enforceable in England and Wales Following a court decision in 2010 however they should be upheld by the courts as long as they were entered into freely by both parties with an understanding as to the implications and it is fair for them to be held to the terms.
Some of the criteria that the court will consider when deciding whether to uphold the terms are:
• Whether there was any duress or undue pressure placed on either of the parties. The court will not enforce an order which one of you felt forced to sign.
• Was there full disclosure of all relevant information? This can help evidence that both parties understood the implications of the order.
• Did you and your partner each take independent legal advice? Again this supports understanding of the effect of the agreement and freewill.
• Was the agreement entered into in good time before the Partnership Ceremony?
The Court still has the discretion to override the pre partnership agreement and determine the appropriate division of assets at the time of a civil partnership dissolution if this is required to achieve fairness. If, however it is satisfied that the terms are fair it is likely to respect and uphold the agreement.
Keeping the pre-partnership agreement updated can also help ensure the terms are binding. Things do change over the course of a relationship so it is important to update the agreement if there is a relevant change to your circumstances e.g. children or change of income. If you don’t keep it updated the courts could find that the terms of the agreement are no longer fair to you or your partner.
If you and your partner need advice about pre-civil partnership agreements call us on freephone 0800 916 9055 or contact us online and we will call you.
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