A report on matrimonial property, needs and agreements has just been published by the Law Commission. Do you have a pre-nuptial agreement? Are you thinking of making one? What are the implications for you?
First of all, the report is a series of recommendations; it does not mean that they will necessarily be adopted or that the law will change. However, if you have, or are considering making, a pre-nuptial agreement, the recommendations are worth knowing (you can find the full article on the Law Commission website).
The main content of the report is a series of proposals regarding ‘qualifying nuptial agreements’; that is, agreements that are made regarding financial arrangements in the event of the marriage ending.
In order to be valid, the agreement would need to be made by deed, more than 28 days in advance of the marriage or civil partnership. At that time, each partner must disclose material information about their financial situation to the other. Both parties would be required, independently of each other, to receive legal advice about the implications and effect of signing the agreement. In particular it would prevent the court from making financial orders inconsistent with the agreement except where financial needs are concerned; but on the other hand, it couldn’t be used by either party to avoid the responsibility to meet the other’s financial needs. They would each have to sign a statement to say that they have understood this.
Any order would only be able to be varied or revoked by the agreement of both parties, and in accordance with the same restrictions as above. And in the event that one spouse dies, an application for financial provision by the surviving spouse under current inheritance law would take into account any qualifying nuptial agreement that had been made.
These are only recommendations as yet. At Andrew Isaacs Solicitors, we are experts in pre-nuptial agreements and can advise you on the current legal situation and the best way to create an agreement that the court will find acceptable in the event that your marriage fails. We understand that making an agreement of this sort isn’t a supposition of failure, any more than taking out insurance is an expectation that you will make a claim – but it’s there in case you need it, and so are we.