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News & Knowledge

UK: Successful business women – how can you protect your assets on marriage?

20th March 2017
Lester Aldridge LLP

International women’s day was a chance to reflect on the drastic social change that has taken place over recent years. In relatively recent memory, women were expected to stay at home and bring up the children. The thought of women running a successful business or reaching the upper echelons of a multinational corporation was almost unheard of. Thankfully, times have now changed with many women being the main earner in households across the country. MSI's UK South Coast law member Lester Aldridge explains further.

For those that have a successful career before their marriage, how can they protect their wealth if they plan to marry? The simple answer is a prenuptial agreement.

Traditionally thought of as being reserved for Hollywood royalty, UK courts gave them the seal of approval in 2010, subject to certain criteria being met, and increasingly everyday people are entering into them. The effect of a prenuptial agreement is that you can protect your pre-owned assets and ensure that if the worst were to happen, you do not have to face giving them to your former spouse and protracted, complicated and expensive litigation can be avoided.

The Supreme Court has stated that for a prenuptial agreement to be valid, certain criteria must be satisfied, including:

  1. The agreement has been freely entered into at least 28 days before the wedding. Agreements signed “at the church door” are unlikely to be upheld by the court. Likewise, threats that the engagement is off unless a prenuptial agreement is signed are also likely to lead to the validity of the agreement being questioned by the court.
  1. Each party has a full appreciation of the agreement and its meaning and effect. This means that both parties should receive independent legal advice on the terms of the agreement so that they can fully understand what they are signing.
  1. There must be full financial disclosure given. This should be done by at least providing a list of assets in the agreement or as a schedule to the agreement and ought to be accompanied by evidence (i.e. recent bank statements) so that the parties are fully aware of their respective financial provisions.
  1. The agreement entered into must be fair. Just because the agreement was entered into in good time before the wedding, and with full financial disclosure and legal advice, does not mean it is fair. If you have built up a property portfolio worth several hundred thousand pounds, with a large amount of savings to go with it, leaving your future husband (or wife) with nothing on divorce is unlikely to be deemed fair by the court. It is also important that children are provided for. An order that does not provide any financial provision for a spouse should children be born during the marriage is unlikely to be upheld by the court, and you could find that you’re soon to be ex-spouse is being awarded far more than you expected.

It is important to clarify that no prenuptial agreement is 100% watertight and a court could disregard it in certain circumstances. But, provided the above criteria are met a Court is likely to completely uphold it or at least give it significant weight and so you are more protected than without one.

The above criteria are not exhaustive and it is important that anyone contemplating a prenuptial agreement agreement seeks legal advice at the earliest opportunity. Lester Aldridge has a specialist team of family lawyers who can advise and assist you if you are contemplating entering into a prenuptial agreement.

About Lester Aldridge LLP - Bournemouth

Lester Aldridge is a full service law firm, advising commercial organisations and private individuals on a regional, national and international scale, from offices in Southampton and Bournemouth.

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