Prenuptial Agreements and Divorce Law in the UK

In positive news, divorce rates have been found to be falling amongst the younger generations getting married. NimbleFinsupdated their analysis of divorce figures in May of 2020, finding that the average overall divorce rate in England and Wales is 33.3%, based on all marriages over the past 50+ years between 1964 to 2017. The divorce rate was found to be the highest in couples who had been married for 30 years, with their cumulative divorce rate found to be 43.6%. Whether entering into a new marriage, or considering divorce proceedings, a trained solicitor will always be the best person to help and assist you.

Why are prenuptial agreements a good idea?

Prenuptial agreements – also known as ‘prenups’ are legal documents that outline exactly what will happen to your assets and children if you get divorced. Before getting married, it’s very unlikely that you or your partner will be thinking about divorce and the burdens it could bring. Unfortunately, it is often necessary to think about the outcome if things do not work out as you planned. It is in everyone’s best interest to ensure there’s a plan in place for a clean, co-operative separation if things don’t work out. It is a common misconception that prenuptial agreements only benefit wealthy couples, but this is in fact not true. The Law Commission’s report highlights a range of examples where a prenuptial agreement would benefit anyone.

For instance, when:

  • One of you has specific personal assets that they wish to protect, such as inherited wealth or business.
  • You have children from a previous relationship or marriage.
  • One of you thinks that they may come into wealth after marriage.
  • You have come to the UK from a country where pre-nuptial agreements are commonplace.

Traditionally, courts in England and Wales have been hostile towards prenuptial agreements, often dismiss prior agreements completely. However, following the 2010 Supreme Court judgement in the case of Radmacher v Granatino, this has begun to change.

Currently, the Supreme Court has decided that equal weight should be given to the terms of a pre-nuptial agreement, as long as:

  • Each party freely entered into the agreement
  • Both parties fully understood the terms of the agreement at the time
  • It would be fair in the circumstances of the case to uphold it

Following a Supreme Court decision, the Law Commission then took this change one step further by drafting the Nuptial Agreements Bill to reform the existing UK law. Prenuptial agreements are now legally binding, reducing the court’s power to make financial orders on a divorcing couple.

Using family mediation services

Even with the best of intentions, sometimes it seems like things may not work out in a marriage. When thinking ahead with the intention of separating, it can be beneficial for all involved for you to use family mediation services. Family mediation is an excellent method for resolving any of your disputes in a civilised manner. By arranging for you and your ex-partner to discuss your issues through with a qualified mediator present you will often be able to reach an agreement that benefits everyone, without needing to go to court.

How divorce solicitors can help

When you have made the final decision to divorce, divorce solicitors Manchester will be able to help you through the difficult time. In order to file for divorce, you will need to prove that your marriage has broken down. This may be due to adultery or due to unreasonable behaviour, desertion or separation for a period longer than two years. The formal divorce procedure will begin when you file a divorce petition form.

Whether you’re entering into a new marriage or unfortunately ending one, solicitors will always be able to help you through whatever it is that you’re experiencing.