Pre-marital and Pre-Civil Partnership Agreements

Although almost everyone can identify with the initial expectation that partnerships or marriages should last for the long term, sometimes these things are not meant to be. Put simply, pre-marital and pre-civil partnership agreements set out what the two parties would expect to happen if their relationship were to end. 

Although the titles of the contracts are slightly different, their content is actually very similar. Both arrangements provide an opportunity for each person to protect or respect the other’s separate assets that were acquired before the new partnership ceremony or planned marriage takes place.

What is a prenuptial agreement?

Also known as pre-marital agreements (or pre-civil partnership agreements for same-sex couples), prenuptial agreements are another term for contracts which two people sign before formalising their relationship. Although not strictly enforceable, pre-nuptial contracts tend to carry much more weight nowadays. Most specialists and many people view such contracts as a practical measure; certainly, the courts are increasingly taking notice of what is known as collaborative law and becoming a common part of modern financial planning. A prenuptial contract may be a good way to ring-fence a parental loan for a house deposit, for instance, or to set family or children’s trust funds apart.

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Legal Precedents

Relatively new in English and Welsh legislation and civil law, some legal precedents have been established over recent years to start forming case law. The case of Gallagher vs Lawrence showed that a couple that enters into a civil partnership without a pre-civil partnership agreement would be treated in the same way as a married heterosexual couple. Specifically, either may claim a share of pre-acquired assets from the other. For some people, therefore, it is important to consider the ramifications and to set out the financial circumstances in detail before registering the relationship.

Legal Requirements

In the Supreme Court, the case of Radmacher vs Granatino established that courts would generally implement the conditions of pre-marital agreements providing that they had been arrived at voluntarily, i.e. without duress or pressure. Also, both signatories must have had full information about the other person’s financial circumstances. Additionally, the two partners must have intended the agreement to be effective, though this is generally deemed the case for agreements made from 2010 under English law. 

Legal practitioners have not