Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Planning A Wedding, Preparing For Divorce - Would you consider a pre-nup?

You're looking at fabric swatches, invitation designs and centrepieces in haze of creative bliss, and then you get a rude awakening in the form of 100 page document from your hubby-to-be's lawyer, detailing down to the last minute point what will happen in the event of divorce.  It's hardly the romantic bunch of flowers most girls would be looking for.  Prenuptial agreements have long divided opinion: are they romance killers, or practical guides?

Given the high rate of divorce across the UK, Europe and the US, it is perhaps not surprising that more people than ever are considered signing one.  Prenups are useful documents that set out, before the marriage, how assets should divide upon the union being dissolved.  They are useful tools because the marriage breakdown leaves couples fraught, angry and unable to think clearly where their partner is concerned.

The biggest argument against such a document is that it destroys the whole point of getting married in the first place.  If you think you're going to split up in the end, why bother with the wedding to begin with?  Many legal reps involved with drafting prenups agree that the prenup puts added pressure on the relationship, making it more likely to fail before it starts.  This can be due to the outrageous clauses in them.  Peculiar examples include weight clauses (the disadvantaged party can claim financial recompense if the other spouse goes above their agreed weight limit), abortion clauses (all cases of pregnancy must be terminated) and cheating bonuses, where the disadvantaged party can claim an extra financial bonus if their partner is unfaithful.


The fact that prenups in the UK are not legal binding, in my opinion, is an advantage.  It can act as a useful guideline, but it still leaves room for manoeuvre or a dramatic change in circumstance in the lifetime of the marriage.  If you feel the need to have an agreement, my advice is to talk about it with your partner as soon after your engagement as possible.  Organising such a serious document in the middle of a wedding haze won't be good for you now or then.  Given the legal fees that drawing up such a document will entail, I do not believe it would be worth having one unless you believe that you would suffer a serious financial loss if the marriage were to fall apart.


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