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How to protect your assets before you say, I do

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Consider this scenario - You have a successful career, which you have worked hard to achieve making huge sacrifices along the way.

You own your home, which you purchased many years ago. You put down a large deposit initially and over the years you have managed to pay off most of your mortgage thanks to all those bonuses you received due to your hard work.

You have finally met that special person with whom you want to spend the rest of your life with. They move into your home. You then decide to get married and you both continue to reside together in what was your home.

Unfortunately, things do not go well after just a couple of years, as one day when you come back home early from work, you see that special person in your bed with your best friend.

You have a meeting with a Family Lawyer and you are shocked to learn that this not so special person may be entitled to receive half of the equity in your home, which you owned many years before what has been a short marriage and to add insult to injury due to the high standard of living you both enjoyed, as a result of your hard work, you may still have to financially support them even after the divorce.

The above scenario illustrates why entering into a Pre-Nuptial/Pre-Civil Partnership Agreement prior to marriage or civil partnership is essential.

A Pre-Nuptial/Pre-Civil Partnership Agreement is a written contract in contemplation of marriage/civil partnership between your intended spouse and you recording both of your wishes and intentions regarding your respective finances and property in the event of a divorce, annulment or dissolution.

Pre-Nuptial/Pre-Civil Partnership Agreements are currently not legally enforceable in England and Wales. This means that notwithstanding the fact you have entered into a written contract with your spouse, the Court in England and Wales can still overturn the agreement in any subsequent Divorce or Dissolutions proceedings, if it feels that the terms are unfair to either party.

However, I am pleased to note that following the recent recommendation of the Law Commission; at long last steps are being taken to make Pre-Nuptial/Pre-Civil Partnership Agreements legally binding. As a consequence of this, I have noticed an increase in the demand for Pre-Nuptial Agreements in my family practice.

If your intended spouse has requested for you to enter into a Pre-Nuptial/Pre-Civil Partnership it is vital that you employ independent legal advice on the fairness of the proposed Agreement and to ensure your intended spouse has provided you with full and frank of disclosure of their financial circumstances prior to you entering into the Agreement.

The cost of entering into a Pre-Nuptial/Pre-Civil Partnership Agreement varies and will depend on the hourly rates of the Solicitors employed by your intended spouse and you plus on the complexity of your respective finances and property. However, if the Agreement is entered into properly it could end up saving you a lot of heartache and pain, as well, as a significant amount of money in the long run in any subsequent Divorce or Dissolution proceedings.