Pre-nups in a Pandemic
Updated: Jun 29
The list of things the COVID-19 pandemic has changed throughout 2020 and into 2021 is long. From travel advisories to social distancing guidelines COIVID-19 has altered many aspects of life. For hundreds of couples, the coronavirus has meant having to postpone a wedding. Not only is the current situation impacting on marriages, its also affecting decisions surrounding pre-nuptial and post-nuptial agreements.
What is a Prenup?
A Pre-Marital Agreement also referred to as a ‘pre-nup’ is a formal, written agreement between two partners prior to their marriage. It sets out ownership of all their belongings (including money, assets and property) and explains how it will be divided in the event of the breakdown of their marriage.
Prenuptial agreements are perceived by some to be pessimistic and unromantic. Others argue that a pre-nup can avoid the loss of time and money.
How is a Prenup Drawn up?
A Pre-Nuptial Agreement (pre-nup) or Pre-Civil Partnership Agreement can be drawn up before a marriage or civil partnership takes place to establish such arrangements. If you and your spouse created a prenuptial agreement to protect your assets, but then had to postpone your wedding due to COVID-19, consider a few factors that may be relevant to your current situation. You may need to work with a prenuptial agreement lawyer for assistance.
Will my pre-nup be recognised in the UK?
English law does not formally recognise pre-marital agreements in the same way that other countries do. However, in recent years the English Courts have given pre-marital agreements weight in a number of cases and treated them as being significant.
We cannot guarantee that the terms of a pre-marital agreement will be upheld by the court, unless there is a significant shift in the law. However, we will discuss your specific circumstances with you and one of our expert lawyers will draft a document which will give a pre-marital agreement the best chance of being upheld if challenged at a later date.
Do couples have a time frame in which they need to sign a pre-nup?
Couples do not have a time frame in which they have to sign a prenuptial agreement, this can be done any time before the wedding, from months in advance to a day before. It is best practice for prenuptial agreements to be signed at least 28 days prior to the marriage, and therefore it is important that you take legal advice sooner rather than later if you believe a prenuptial agreement may be appropriate in your circumstances. If you and your spouse already signed and notarized a prenuptial agreement, it does not mean it is currently in effect. The document will not become legally binding until after you and your spouse marry. This is because they do not take effect when signed, but when the couple marries.
If I postpone my wedding due to COVID-19 will it affect my pre-nup?
Postponing your wedding will not affect your prenuptial agreement. Your agreement will still be valid and enforceable by court after you marry. Due to the affect that the COVID-19 pandemic has had, many couples may have experienced a significant change in income, assets, and debts. For example, you or your spouse might have lost a job, or racket up a significant debt. This can create issues in terms of a prenuptial agreement that you and your spouse had signed before the pandemic. Your old pre-nup agreement, may have listed an amount of income you no longer earn.
When should I update my pre-nup?
It is important to update your prenuptial agreement if something has changed. You and your spouse should work together on new terms that better accommodate the way your life looks now if it has been affected due to COVID-19. A solicitor can ensure the validity of your prenuptial agreement. They can also help make the process more efficient and help you finish your prenuptial agreement before your new wedding date. The pre-nup must be in writing and contain terms and provisions that are reasonable and lawful.
It is best practice for prenuptial agreements to be signed at least 28 days prior to the marriage, and therefore it is important that you take legal advice sooner rather than later if you believe a prenuptial agreement may be appropriate in your circumstances. Making a prenuptial agreement can take weeks and sometimes even months depending on the complexity of the terms. Even during these uncertain times when you may not know when your wedding will occur, it is good to start speaking to a professional.
Finally, things to consider before getting a prenuptial agreement
· Neither party should feel pressurised into entering into an agreement
· Both parties must be separately and independently advised by a solicitor
· Both parties must give full and frank disclosure of financial and all other relevant circumstances
· In respect of a pre-marital agreement, the agreement must be entered into some time before the marriage takes place – at least six weeks before the wedding.
· The agreement should be fair in all the circumstances.
Chat to Rose & Rose
These are troubling times for all of us and we understand how stressful your wedding date having to be postponed can be. If you need legal advice, our specialist team of solicitors will be happy to help. We can provide you with a fixed fee for this service so you will know exactly what costs you will need to pay.
This is a complex area of the law and requires expert advice. Please contact us on 0208 974 7490 or firstname.lastname@example.org to arrange an initial consultation to discuss the best way forward for you and we will provide you with further and specific advice tailored to your circumstances.
When entering into a marriage, there are other legal documents you may want to consider. We can also provide advice on other connected services such as writing or updating your wills and lasting power of attorney.
Our experienced and understanding team are here to help you. We will work with you to ensure the best possible outcome.