Helen Maguire, associate solicitor in our Home and Family team looks at the causes behind the rise in pre-nuptial agreements and how the courts are interpreting them.
While they may seem like something only needed by the rich and famous, pre-nuptial agreements have been trending with a different demographic in recent years: millennials.
And following a landmark case, they are becoming increasingly common in the UK.
They may not yet be as popular as smashed avocado on toast, but it’s millennials that are changing the game.
Deciding how you will divide your assets, and the possibility of a divorce before you even say ‘I do’, may have once been considered an unromantic gesture. However, people are now getting married later in life, meaning that they likely already have begun establishing their careers and acquiring assets before walking down the aisle.
Even though millennials may seek pre-nuptial agreements for reasons different than their parents’ generation, parents often play a critical role in encouraging their children to enter into a pre-nup.
As the baby boomer generation ages, they are taking precautions to ensure their family businesses, trusts, and other assets are kept in the bloodline. Though a millennial family member may not yet be active in a family business, pre-nuptial agreements help ensure that younger generations are able to take on that responsibility without any outside interference when the time comes.
Assets from long-held family businesses such as farms can be particularly tricky and emotionally difficult to deal with when a pre-marital agreement is not in place. Without a pre-nup, all or parts of such businesses can be divided in favour of the spouse who otherwise would have no stake in the business interests. That affects both the parties to the divorce and extended family members.
Since the landmark case Radmacher v Granatino in 2010, there has been a real shift in the court’s approach to pre-nups. The present position is that provided the agreement is deemed to be ‘fair’, the court is likely to uphold it. The message is simple: if you sign one, you should expect to be held to its terms.
Helen Maguire has extensive experience in advising clients on pre-nuptial and post-nuptial agreements. She also advises clients in relation to divorce, civil partnership dissolution, financial disputes, cohabitation disputes, separation agreements and injunctive relief. To speak to Helen, call her 01200 411250.