Hard to believe, but only 8% of a survey of 200 City high fliers – those with possibly the most to lose – said they had already or would consider signing a prenuptial agreement. 56% were romantics who believed that they didn’t need such legal precautions as their relationship was so strong.
Yet high-profile examples of three-times married musician Phil Collins who has reportedly paid out a combined £42m to his former wives and Paul McCartney, who found fame and fortune couldn’t buy him love but contributed £24.3m to ex-wife Heather Mills’ coffers, resonate with some.
Nowadays, about 50% of all marriages finish in divorce, meaning that prenuptial agreements are becoming increasingly popular.
So what is a prenuptial agreement and how can you ensure they are worth the paper they are written on?
A prenuptial contract (or contract) is an agreement made by a couple before they marry, detailing how they would like their assets to be split should they divorce.
They are usually made when one partner, for whatever reason, stands to lose more from a divorce than their other half.
You should be aware that under current English law, prenuptial agreements in the UK are not legally binding. However a landmark ruling by an Appeal Court in 2009, taking a prenuptial contract into account when protecting the assets of a German heiress from her ex-husband, sent out a strong indication that English courts may now consider them.
Although couples are entitled to draft their own agreements without the help of a solicitor, this is not advisable. A hastily or badly drawn up agreement can be costly financially, not to mention the added stress involved in a protracted divorce. Some such cases have ended up with a party surrendering more than half their assets to a former partner and even having to pay out 50 per cent or more of their future earnings to their ex-spouse.
Gay and lesbian couples can also draw up prenuptial agreements. Thousands of same sex couples have used the 2004 Civil Partnership Act to officially register their relationship and thus gain the same rights as married couples. They can therefore make a prenuptial agreement for the same reasons as their heterosexual counterparts.
You can get specialist advice from prenuptial contract solicitors whether you are currently in the UK or abroad at the momenta policy that could make sure you do not meet the same fate as the ‘romantic’rich.