Getting Married – Do I Need a Pre-nup?

Business Insights

Preparing for marriage can be an exciting journey filled with endless decisions and to-do lists. Amidst the flurry of wedding preparations and anticipation of the honeymoon, it's easy to overlook the practical considerations that underpin a lifelong commitment. Building in a pre-nuptial agreement in your plans can help safeguard your future interests and give peace of mind for both parties involved. In this blog we answer some key questions about pre-nuptial agreements and how a solicitor can help you.

What is a pre-nuptial agreement?

A pre-nuptial agreement, commonly referred to as a pre-nup, is a written contract made between two individuals before marriage. The purpose of the pre-nup is to safeguard assets brought into the marriage and establish what happens to the assets in the event of a divorce. The document outlines ownership of property and assets, as well as addressing financial matters like debts, spousal support, and inheritance rights.

Why do I need a pre-nup?

No one wants to think that their marriage won't last, but the harsh reality is that in the UK, approximately 42% of marriages end in divorce. Without a pre-nup, should you divorce, there is a higher likelihood of disputes over asset division, finances, and property rights.

To enter into a pre-nup, you will both will need to be open to each other about your respective assets. By openly talking about your assets, debts, and financial plans you can reduce uncertainty from the outset and should the worst happen at some point in the future a prenup can be a valuable resource to fall back upon in divorce negotiation.

In the past prenups tended to be only for the very wealthy, but today as people more commonly marry more than once and often at an older age, many people have accumulated assets which they bring into a marriage.

Are pre-nups legally binding?

While pre-nups are not legally binding, they may carry considerable weight in divorce proceedings if certain criteria are met.

Both parties must have fully disclosed all assets and property, sought independent legal advice before signing the agreement, understood the terms of agreement and entered into the agreement freely.

In addition to this, the agreement must have been written and signed at least 28 days before the wedding, and the court must deem it fair and reasonable.

Do I need a solicitor for a pre-nuptial agreement?

Solicitors understand the complexities of family law, including property division, spousal support, child custody, and child support. This knowledge is invaluable when it comes to creating a pre-nuptial agreement that is fair to both parties.

An experienced solicitor can identify any potential issues or gaps in the agreement, and they can advise you on how to address them. Having your wishes written down and facilitated by a solicitor also reduces the chances of contentious disputes and making a divorce more stressful and costly than it needs to be.

How do I protect my assets?

If you own property, have investments, businesses or significant savings, a pre-nuptial agreement can ensure that those assets are protected and remain in your possession if the marriage ends. This is especially important if you have children from a previous relationship that you want to provide for.

Should you end up separating or divorcing one another, a pre-nuptial agreement can provide clarity and certainty by setting out clear guidelines for the division of assets and debts. It can also help to avoid lengthy and expensive legal battles.

It can also protect you from liability for your partner's debts. A debt clause can limit your own liability if your partner has outstanding borrowings brought into the marriage.

Equally if you or your family has a business, a pre-nup can help safeguard this.

Will a pre-nuptial protect my children from a previous marriage?

It's now estimated that 1 in 3 families in the UK are a blended family, or a stepfamily. A pre-nuptial agreement can be used to determine what rights children from a prior marriage have - to any property or assets in the event the current marriage breaks down. It can add financial security and ensure inheritance rights are preserved, helping to prevent potential disputes and uncertainties in the future.

Even if you don't have any children before you marry, a pre-nup can define how any future children might be supported financially.

What if I don't have a pre-nuptial agreement?

Without a pre-nuptial agreement in place, the distribution of finances, assets and liabilities may be subject to the discretion of the court, which considers various factors such as the duration of the marriage, contributions made by each spouse, and the needs of any children involved.

This can lead to disputes and uncertainties regarding the division of assets, potentially resulting in prolonged and costly legal proceedings.

As a result, couples may experience increased stress, conflict, and uncertainty. Therefore, while not legally required, having a pre-nuptial agreement can provide clarity, protection, and peace of mind for couples entering marriage.

Why should I take legal advice for a pre-nuptial agreement?

You should always seek legal advice for a pre-nuptial agreement to ensure that your rights and interests are fully protected. Legal advice helps you understand the implications of the agreement and enables you to draft a pre-nuptial agreement that addresses your specific needs and circumstances, ultimately providing clarity, protection, and peace of mind for both parties involved.

If you don't both take legal advice a pre-nup will not be valid.

What if I ran out of time before the wedding to do a pre-nuptial agreement?

If time ran away with you, there is nothing stopping you from putting together a post-nuptial agreement. Whilst these are not as commonly used as pre-nuptial agreements, they serve a similar purpose in clarifying intentions regarding assets and liabilities after marriage or when circumstances change during the marriage that require clarification. For example, a post-nuptial agreement might be necessary if there's a significant change in financial circumstances, such as one spouse inheriting a large sum of money or starting a new business during the marriage. Having a post-nuptial in place provides clarity in these situations and reduces potential misunderstandings in the event of a relationship breakdown.

Can I update a nuptial agreement?

You can make changes to a pre- or post-nuptial agreement as and when you see fit. Generally, both parties (you and your partner) must agree to the changes, and this is typically done through an amendment.

Both parties should seek independent legal advice when making changes to an agreement. This ensures that each person understands the implications of the changes and that the new terms are fair and legally sound.

Embracing the future together

Whatever path you choose whether it's opting for a pre-nuptial agreement before saying 'I do' or arranging a post-nuptial agreement after the vows, it will undoubtedly contribute to your peace of mind and lay the foundation for a more secure future together.

It is important to note that a single lawyer cannot provide advice to both you and your partner when creating a pre or post-nuptial agreement. To ensure fairness, the process requires that each party consults with their respective lawyers. For this reason, seeking advice early in the process is crucial. Pickerings Solicitors expert team can assist you in drawing up pre-nuptial agreements as well as post-nuptial agreements. Call us on 01827 317070 or email


The contents of this article are intended for general information purposes only and shall not be deemed to be or constitute legal advice. We cannot accept responsibility for any loss as a result of acts or omissions taken in respect of this article.