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Ending the Prenup taboo – Broaching the Prenup chat

Obviously no one wants, or expects, their dream trip to Barbados to go wrong, but you wouldn’t commit to that expensive holiday without making sure your holiday insurance is securely in place.

With that thought in mind, why are so many people getting married without a prenup?

‘What’s mine is yours!’

Amongst all the excitement of the wedding planning, it can be easy to forget exactly what you are committing to. Marriage is a legal relationship. When you get married, you promise to share your life, and everything you own and have worked for, with your spouse. Two individuals’ assets are combined into one shared matrimonial pot. Yes, this includes the property bought with your life-long savings ,your future earning potential if you get that promotion and potentially even your inheritance from Granny. To be clear, you’re committing to sharing the whole lot, including any debts; everything you have at the date of marriage and everything you acquire during the marriage – ‘what’s mine is yours‘!

So what happens if, like that trip to Barbados, the marriage doesn’t quite work out as planned? If you divorce, then that pot of shared matrimonial assets will need to be divided between the two of you. Arguments over who gets what are why many divorces turn into lengthy, expensive legal battles. So, as a couple, how can you protect yourselves against this risk?

What is a Prenup?

A prenup (short for a prenuptial agreement) is a formal contract between you and your spouse, in which you both set out your intentions as to how your finances should be divided in the event of a divorce or separation. In essence, prenups are insurance policies which can be activated if the marriage breaks down. Although prenups are not legally binding in England and Wales, Courts are continuing to place greater weight and reliance on them as they have become more popular. Many incorrectly associate prenups with the super-rich, but prenups are in fact for everyone. In all relationships, the relatively low cost of a prenup can save both parties a huge amount of money that otherwise would have been spent on arguing over who gets what if the relationship breaks down in the future.

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There remains a real stigma around prenups, as, understandably, it’s awkward for any happy couple to consider the prospect of their relationship breaking down. Let’s face it, discussing the possibility of divorce before you are even married is uncomfortable and a stark contrast to the loved-up, wedding planning bubble that you enjoy during your engagement. However, perhaps if people could get used to the idea of prenups and understand their value, couples may find it easier to discuss what continues to be a taboo topic.

How do you start the conversation?

Our divorce experts have shared some tips on approaching the prenup conversation with your partner:

Be open and honest – start the conversation by informing your partner that you think a prenup is a sensible idea and clearly explain your reasons. Make sure your tone is diplomatic and make sure your other half understands what a prenup is and how it can provide financial security for both of you.

Be prepared for a negative response – as we know, unfortunately there is a taboo surrounding prenups. Initially, your partner may take offence and get upset. Make sure you listen to what they have to say so they know their feelings are being considered. You can then go on to explain that a prenup is just like an insurance policy – you hope that the worst won’t happen, and you don’t expect it to, but it is sensible to have protections in place.

Let them have some thinking time – in the first instance, don’t dive straight in and start listing everything you’d like to keep. Once you’ve broached the idea of a prenup, give your other half some time to mull it over, and don’t pressurise them into making any decision on the spot. The details can be discussed later on, once your partner has also had time to consider their own thoughts and expectations.

Although we are trying to break the taboo, we are aware that the negative connotations surrounding prenups don’t make them an easy topic to discuss. If you want some general advice about prenups, or if you are looking to proceed with one, please feel free to reach out to one of Ward Hadaway’s specialist Divorce solicitors.

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    Please note that this briefing is designed to be informative, not advisory and represents our understanding of English law and practice as at the date indicated. We would always recommend that you should seek specific guidance on any particular legal issue.

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