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Post Christmas and New Year, many newly engaged couples will be starting to plan their big day – set the date, find the venue, book the caterers – the list goes on. But what about adding a pre-nuptial agreement to your wedding plans?

Pre-nuptial agreements have been around since ancient Egyptian times. A 2,400 year old scroll confirmed a wife would receive “1.2 pieces of silver and 36 bags of grain” in the event of a separation.  Things have moved on since then, but the intention remains the same; to protect any assets you might bring into a marriage and set out who is responsible for any debts and who keeps any property you might own, should the marriage break down. They are particularly helpful where there is a significant imbalance in the wealth of the individuals getting married.

With the rise of people getting married later in life and second or subsequent marriages, it makes sense to protect assets (such as property, possessions or savings) that have been built up over many years or perhaps inherited.

If your child is planning their wedding and they stand to inherit significant family wealth, you may want to suggest a pre-nuptial agreement. Whilst not an easy subject to approach, it can lead to a far more harmonious relationship with both families after the excitement of the wedding is over.

Whereas some may view this as unromantic, pre-nuptial agreements provide certainty, financial security and protection at a time when emotions may be running high.

Whilst the law does not specifically recognise pre-nuptial agreements, following a case in 2010 they will uphold them if they are entered into freely and those involved understood what they were doing. .

To ensure a pre-nuptial agreement is valid both parties have to seek separate legal advice and give disclosure of their assets and incomes to each other. Any agreements have to be signed at least twenty-one days before their marriage to avoid any possible arguments that one party to the marriage was placed under duress and forced to sign it.

Couples are under no obligation to enter into a pre-nuptial agreement. However if you have wealth to protect, it is far more cost effective to spend a small sum of money sorting out financial arrangements before the big day than it is to argue over the division of marital assets in court on a divorce.

The contents of this article are intended for general information purposes only and shall not be deemed to be, or constitute legal advice. We cannot accept responsibility for any loss as a result of acts or omissions taken in respect of this article.