Binding ‘pre-nup’ law for couples proposed

The government have announced today that they are considering the Law Commission’s recommendation on making pre and post-nuptial agreements legally binding to make it easier for couples to manage their finances after a split.

Pre- and post-nuptial agreements are becoming more commonplace but at present are not legally binding. However, the Courts are starting to take them into account in certain circumstances.

It is argued that qualifying nuptial agreements would give couples autonomy and control, and make the financial outcome of separation more predictable.

The Law Commission has also laid out conditions in order for these agreements to be legally binding, which include:

  • Both partners must have had legal advice
  •  Both partners must have disclosed all relevant information about their finances
  • A pre-nuptial agreement must have been made at least 28 days before the wedding or civil partnership

Prenuptial agreements are presently recognised in Australia and are valid in several European countries including France, Belgium and the Netherlands.  In the United States lawyers often recommend videotaping the signing of the pre-nuptial agreement.

Whilst the full impact of the recommendations is not yet known, it is clear to see that this is a hot topic and one that the government will need to carefully consider. Furthermore, it will be interesting to see how this develops in the current economic climate where fewer people are able to access face to face legal advice due to the on-going Legal Aid cut backs.

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