You’ve met the person of your dreams. The romantic proposal was on that cruise to the Galapagos Islands. You won’t bore us with the photographs – just plaster them all over Facebook and we’ll get the picture (excuse the pun). You were, like, totally not expecting it (What took so long? It’s been five years and counting…)
Oh well, like they say, better late than never and that’s the engagement in the bag. What next?
“The Big Day!” I hear you say, your eyes rolling.
Don’t forget the best man: Who has the skill to write a memorable (but adequately censored) speech? Will there be bridesmaids (you could get Gemma and Lizzie involved, but if you ask Lizzie you’ll have to ask Jess too and you sort of fell out with her at that party in August…awkward). And how do you make sure Uncle Bill doesn’t get too boozy and do that embarrassing turn on the dance floor? You don’t want your big day turning into a repeat of Aunty Jill’s, 5 June 1984…
And so, amidst the joys of true lurve being confirmed and acknowledged in marriage or in a civil partnership – two soul mates, destined to be together, uniting across a gulf (there’s my poetic indulgence out of the way) – it is quite easy to lose sight of the financial consequences that come with it. Maybe you already have built up assets of your own, or maybe you have an inheritance you wish to ring fence etc – Uh oh, now it gets all legal…
I hate to break it to you, but sometimes it has to get at least a tiny bit legal (just a teeny, teeny bit – stay with me), especially if getting a pre-nuptial agreement is important to you. The thing is, you might not want to think about what is yours, and what is theirs, and what you want to keep, and what they want to keep, and who would get that, and who would get this if things ever went Eastenders-style pear-shaped (or just plain old pear-shaped). Maybe the pre-nuptial agreement just isn’t for you. Some love ‘em, some hate ‘em; they are the marmite of matrimonial law.
But if you do want a pre-nup (sounds so Hollywood) do not leave it to the last minute. In English Law, pre-nups have progressively had more prevalence and significance in courts with respect to parties’ finances following divorce. That is not to say that they are 100% foolproof and there is no certainty that the law won’t change in the future. But a pre-nuptial agreement is a factor the court will take into account and consider.
It goes without saying, then, that these legal contracts require thought. They should not be entered into lightly. You need to be aware of the weight your pre-nuptial agreement is likely to have, should the day ever arrive when it is dug out of the old cabinet, dusty and neglected, and exposed to fresh legal eyes.
You need to be aware of your rights if there is no pre-nuptial agreement, and how your prenuptial agreement can affect those rights. You need to seek independent advice, separately to your betrothed, and really get to grips with how matrimonial law affects you. Some sticking points may come up that you hadn’t thought about before, and you want to have time to stress-freely negotiate if necessary.
It is suggested that there should be between 21 to 42 days between the prenuptial agreement and your wedding or civil partnership. You should definitely not give yourselves any less time than that. If you want a prenuptial agreement, make sure it’s high up on your list.
Congrats, obv, btw!