Question: My fiancé and I plan to marry next year. I got quite a large sum of money from my grandfather, which my dad is keen for me to protect. He says it is now possible to have a prenuptial agreement which will ring-fence my inheritance. Is this correct — and is it worth doing?
Answer: The situation has been uncertain for some time. In 2010 the Supreme Court ruled that prenuptial agreements could be taken into account if certain conditions were satisfied — but very recently the High Court ruled that an agreement entered into by one couple the day before their wedding could not be relied upon.
To remove the uncertainty, the Law Commission has produced a report after long consultation in which it proposes a draft Bill. If this is enacted, couples will be able to enter into a legally binding agreement about the disposal of their assets should their relationship break down. To be a qualifying and binding prenuptial agreement, various conditions will need to be satisfied. For example, the couple must fully disclose their finances and each take legal advice. The agreement is a contract and there should be no misrepresentation, fraud or undue influence.
It should contain a clause stating that both parties understand the agreement is a qualifying prenuptial agreement, which will take away the court's discretion to make financial orders regarding their assets if their marriage collapses. The "prenup" should be signed by the couple no less than 28 days before the wedding, and should provide for their needs, and for those of any children.
Once the Bill is enacted, you will be able to enter into a binding prenuptial agreement with your fiancé — provided you satisfy the criteria to ensure that the agreement qualifies.