Prenuptial agreements to become legally binding

There has been a dramatic rise in couples making prenuptial agreements in the past year, with more and more ordinary people wanting to protect their assets.

Prenuptial agreements have been criticised for not being worth the paper they’re written on, but this isn’t the case. Prenuptial agreements are persuasive in British courts and are an important factor in divorce cases

Want to make a prenuptial agreement? Use our prenuptial agreement download today and save £££s! 

If both parties have taken legal advice, the prenuptial agreement has been signed at least a month before the wedding, the finances have been disclosed and the contract is deemed fair by the judge, the prenuptial agreement is likely to be seen as legally binding.

And due to plans being considered by the Law Commission, the government’s law reform watchdog, prenuptial agreements could be legally binding within a few years and it aims to draw up a draft Bill by 2012.

As part of the commission’s plans to reform the legal status of prenuptial agreements, it will also evaluate whether the law of intestacy – inheritance when a person dies without making a will - should be changed. 

This review of the intestacy laws could see a change in the inflexible rules which often require a house to be sold over the head of a widow or widower.

Read more about the law of intestacy and the dangers of not writing a Will here.

The Law Commission is also reviewing the right to apply to the courts for those left and not provided for under a will or intestacy, such as cohabitees.

Living together? Find out the financial dangers of not writing a Will here.

At present, judges take prenuptial agreements into account if both parties have freely entered into the prenuptial agreement and the prenuptial agreement includes full disclosure of the assets involved.

Until now, the Law Commission hasn’t made any major changes to the law on financial disputes between divorcing couples, despite some senior judges calling for it, because the issue has been considered to be too politically sensitive.

Sir Terence Etherton, a high court judge and the Law Commission's chairman, said: "There is a recognition that the division of assets is an issue of considerable social importance, and there is wide dissatisfaction with the current law.

"But we recognise that the issue is increasingly politicised and controversial."

He predicted that the Law Commission's proposals, to allow cohabiting couples in England and Wales to make financial claims on each other after the break-up of a relationship, would become law soon.

The commission plans to look at the enforceability of agreements entered into before a marriage or a civil partnership, and after a marriage. It is also looking into whether post-marital agreements, relating to the division of assets if marriage breaks down, should be enforced.

Do you want to protect your assets? Find out if a making a prenuptial agreement is right for you…

Find out more on when to make a prenuptial agreement, what a prenuptial agreement does and how to make it legally binding.

Want to make a prenuptial agreement? Use our prenuptial agreement download today and save £££s! 

With Lawpack’s prenuptial agreement download you can complete the legal form yourself before taking legal advice and save £££s in solicitor’s fees.

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Published on: October 2, 2008

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