Prenuptial Agreements: What You Need To Know
The idea of a prenuptial agreement is to protect both parties financially before they get married. This legal document can be used to protect a multitude of different aspects of the couple’s financial affairs, including things such as family inheritances and what help children from previous marriages will get should the worst happen and they end up getting divorced.
The problem is, however, that many people falsely assume that their document is watertight when in reality a court may well throw the agreement out during the divorce proceedings. Prenuptial agreements are not foolproof and there are certain guidelines that need to be followed in order to ensure that all of the assets stated within the agreement are protected sufficiently.
- Disclose All Assets And Liabilities Fully In Writing
Both parties must disclose all of their assets and liabilities in writing fully otherwise the prenuptial agreement can be dismissed and deemed invalid by the courts. Failing to provide full disclosure of all financial affairs will be seen as having something to hide, and the courts will likely take a dim view of such deceitfulness. Therefore, it is vital that both parties disclose all of their assets and liabilities when taking out a prenuptial agreement.
- Do Not Set Unfair Terms
Making sure that the terms written within the prenuptial agreement are fair and reasonable will go a long way to ensuring that the courts accept the contents of the document should in come to that stage. This is because courts have the power to dismiss prenuptial agreements should they consider them as being in any way unfair to either party. This is especially true where children are concerned and their best interests have not been taken into account.
It’s also worth bearing in mind that prenuptial agreements that include the minutiae of a marriage, such as who will be expected to do the cleaning, will not be looked upon favourably by the courts and could result in the whole document being thrown out.
- Have Separate Legal Counsel
While it is important that the couple sit down together to draw up the prenuptial agreement, it is also vital that they each have their own representation. Having one lawyer handle both sides, or if only one side has legal counsel, could result in the document being thrown out by the courts. This is because one party may be able to object on the grounds of not fully understanding what the document entailed before they put pen to paper and signed it.
- Be Sure To Check Local Laws
Laws vary depending upon whereabouts the marriage will take place. England may have different rulings for different parts of the agreement to Scotland, for example. Always consult your legal representative to ensure that your agreement will stand up in court.
- Ensure That Both Parties Have Fully Read The Agreement
Giving yourself enough time to draw up the agreement is essential if you want the courts to take it seriously during divorce proceedings. An agreement that has been signed just a few days before the marriage took place could raise some red flags as it may indicate that the document has not been properly read through by both parties, or worse yet that one party may have been forced into signing. Make sure that your agreement is signed at least one month prior to walking down the aisle.
Your prenuptial agreement is a legal document so it should be taken very seriously indeed. If you want to make sure that your agreement stands up in court, follow these guidelines to the letter so that both of you are fully protected if the document needs to be read in a court of law.
Grace Seely is the communications manager at Grayfords, a London law firm that specialises on English and International family law.