Pre-Nuptial Agreements – I do or I don’t?

Phil Collins has reportedly blasted the use of pre-nuptial agreements as unethical despite having had to pay out on two multi-million pound settlements to his two ex-wives.

We will all have heard of pre-nuptial agreements but, to most of us, they are considered as something only the rich and famous enter into. So, what are they? In summary a pre-nuptial agreement is a contract entered into by a couple before they marry which sets out the terms of what will happen both parties prior to their marriage which sets out their agreement as to what will happen should their marriage or civil partnership fail. The most common themes to a pre-nuptial agreement are, unsurprisingly, money and assets given that the party bringing the majority of the money or assets to the marriage will want to protect their interests. 

For instance, Mr A wishes to marry Miss B. Mr A, in his own right, is a multi-millionaire with business and property interests globally worth in excess of £50 million. He wishes to enter into a pre-nuptial agreement so that if the soon to be Mrs A wishes to divorce him (or he wishes to divorce her) then she will not have a stake in his £50 million estate. The terms of the pre-nuptial agreement will usually state that she will have no claim, or a limited claim, to his assets if they divorce. 

Although pre-nuptial agreements are mostly availed of by the rich there is nothing to prevent any couple, whatever their means, from entering into a pre-nuptial agreement.

Are they binding?

No – pre-nuptial agreements are not legally binding in Northern Ireland. They can be persuasive, however, and recent case law in England and Wales has held that, in the right case, pre-nuptial agreements can have decisive or compelling weight. It is therefore of utmost importance that both parties take independent legal advice if they are considering entering into a pre-nuptial agreement.

If you require any advice or assistance regarding pre-nuptial agreements or any Family Law matter please feel free to call one of our Family Law specialists who will be happy to assist.