Valentine’s Day is fast approaching and hundreds will be making the ultimate gesture by proposing. So are you planning to ask your partner to marry you? What if they propose to you? Are you prepared? As unromantic as it sounds, many argue that it is practical, or even expected now, to ensure that precautions are considered when proposing to your loved one. In this article we look at whether prenuptial agreements really are the way forward.

No one enters into a marriage with the notion that it will break down. But with the most recent figures stating that over 40% of marriages now end in divorce, the reality is that it’s happening now more than ever. So what if, despite all your efforts, the marriage does not last till “death do us part?” Not only could the couple be in line for more heartache and stress but possibly even more costs. The difference this time, however, is that neither spouse will wish to spend on the one thing that they didn’t plan for…An expensive divorce.

One practical way to manage this genuine concern is to enter into a pre-nuptial agreement. A pre-nuptial agreement is an agreement made by a couple before they marry concerning the ownership of their respective assets should the marriage fail. The agreement can set out what will happen to assets, liabilities, income, inheritance, chattels and so on, in the event that divorce follows. Although such agreements are still not automatically binding in this country, they can be very persuasive and providing the correct rules are followed, they may be binding in whole or in part.

Pre-nuptial agreements will be more relevant for those couples who have an imbalance of assets or are entering into their second or third marriage. Some key questions to ask yourself may include:

  1. Are you wealthier than your partner?
  2. Do you have significant personal assets, such as a home, stock or retirement funds?
  3. Do you own all or part of a business?
  4. Are you expecting to receive an inheritance?
  5. Do you have children from a previous marriage?

As hard as it might be to discuss these issues, doing so can save both parties a lot of heartache and stress in the long run. A pre-nuptial agreement can also minimise the financial turmoil of a divorce. If you don’t want a divorce court to make the final decision about how your assets will be divided, a pre-nuptial agreement can stand you in good stead to protect the things that are most important to you.

So, at a time of year when love is in the air, thought should be given to protecting one’s financial position, inheritance and the like. There is nothing selfish or embarrassing in doing this. It is just like having an insurance policy. One always hopes that it will never be needed. It can just sit at the bottom of the drawer, just in case.

It only seems right, then, in this day and age, that careful thought is given to financial protection, no matter how much one is in love.

For those who are married, a post-nuptial agreement could also be considered. This is similar to a pre-nuptial agreement except for the fact that it is entered into after the marriage.

To learn more about pre- and post-nuptial agreements and whether you should consider entering into one, contact a member of the family team on 020 3319 3700

This article is for general information purposes only and does not constitute legal or professional advice. It should not be used as a substitute for legal advice relating to your particular circumstances. Please note that the law may have changed since the date of this article.