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A Pre-Nuptial Agreement allows those that are planning to marry the chance to enter into an agreement, before they get married, setting out what would happen if they were ever to separate.
When you marry all of the assets will be considered as matrimonial assets. These agreements are therefore particularly useful in second marriages, where there are children from previous relationships and pre existing assets to include pensions, inheritances or businesses. It can also deal with any debts that one of the parties may have built up.
Although Pre-Nuptial Agreements are not currently binding the Courts are now giving increasing weight to them.
The Court has discretion to make any order that it sees fit, if proceedings prove necessary after a separation. The Court has to consider all of the circumstances of the case. The weight that the Court will place on the agreement depends on several factors.
There should be full financial disclosure before signing the agreement and it should be entered into in plenty of time before the wedding. Both parties need to have obtained independent legal advice.
Many people believe that if you live with someone 'as husband and wife', that you have rights when you separate. If you live with your partner but are unmarried, then no matter how long you have been together, you do not have the same rights as married couples.
If you separate there is very little legal protection for you. The laws that apply to married couples do not apply to you. The Courts only consider actual contributions made and the intentions of the parties. A Cohabitation Agreement can deal with these issues.
In many cases houses are owned in the sole name of one of the parties'. If you move in with someone and the home is in their name then you usually have no rights to the house. You may have a claim if you have contributed towards buying the house, have contributed to the mortgage, or if you agreed with your partner that you would have an interest in the house and have since relied on it. However this can all be difficult and costly to prove.
A Cohabitation Agreement can set out how you and your partner will deal with your finances during the relationship and if you were to separate.