Q: I have just got engaged to a divorced man who is 10 years older than me and has three grown-up children. He wants me to enter into a pre-nuptial agreement. I thought these were worthless but a work colleague has told me that the situation has changed recently. Is this true?
© Malcolm Willett (www.willett-ink.co.uk)
A: Your colleague is probably referring to a recent divorce case in which one of Germany’s richest women persuaded the English courts that her pre-nuptial agreement (pre-nup) with her French husband should be substantially upheld. That meant, in effect, that the courts took heed of her pre-nup.
Historically, pre-nups were regarded as undermining the institution of marriage. The current situation is that although pre-nups are still not strictly binding in English law, they are important in any subsequent divorce and will be taken into account provided there has been advance planning before the agreement is signed.
Ideally, this should be at least 21 days before the wedding. There should also be independent legal advice available to both parties before signing, no pressure applied to either party to sign, and both parties should give full disclosure of their financial circumstances beforehand.
It is also sensible to ensure that the pre-nup contains no unfair terms, and if you do enter into one, you should review it over the years on a regular basis as your circumstances, and those of your husband, may change.
If you decide to enter into a pre-nup you must take legal advice to protect your interests.
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Fiona is a partner in the property team at Thring Townsend Lee & Pembertons Solicitors www.ttuk.com.