Law Commission Calls for Enforceable Prenuptial Agreements

March 21, 2014  |   Posted by :   |   Blog

The Law Commission has recommended that prenuptial agreements be legally binding during divorce settlements, providing that any financial responsibilities towards children and other parties are met first. To make dispute resolution more straightforward, and to protect the interests of individuals and families, the commission has suggested that details from prenuptial agreements should be used to enforce divorce decisions, subject to certain qualifications. One such requirement would be that at the time of signing a nuptial agreement, each party obtains legal advice and discloses pertinent financial information prior to their marriage.

prenuptial agreements

Prenuptial agreements are already enforceable under British divorce law, but the commission’s proposals would bring the practice in line with other European jurisdictions. By ensuring that “both partner’s financial needs, and any financial responsibilities towards children, have been met,” nuptial agreements could serve as a valuable way of simplifying and speeding up divorce proceedings. The commission’s report emphasised the need for these qualifications since the enforcement of nuptial agreements without ensuring the protection of the needs of individuals and families “would be very damaging.”

Where children are involved, prenuptial agreements may include financial provision for maintenance, housing, childcare, education and income. With these aspects in mind, the commission has further suggested that the government should fund a “long-term study to assess whether a workable, non-statutory formula could be produced that would give couples a clearer idea of the amounts that might need to be paid to meet needs” in order to produce “a guideline range of outcomes within which couples can negotiate.”

Law Commissioner for property, family and trust law Professor Elizabeth Cooke explained: “Pre- and post-nuptial agreements are becoming more commonplace but the courts will not always follow them and lawyers are therefore not able to give clear advice about their effect. Qualifying nuptial agreements would give couples autonomy and control, and make the financial outcome of separation more predictable.”

While prenuptial agreements may not seem like a particularly romantic step to take when you’re planning a marriage, setting out your expectations and being open about finances provides a firm starting point for long-term relationships and protects you from unnecessary stress and confusion in the case of separation in the future. If you’re thinking of arranging a prenuptial agreement it’s important not to leave it too late. The Law Commission proposal outlines that agreements should be finalised at least 28 days before the wedding, which means it’s a good idea to book an appointment with your solicitor at around three months in advance. To speak to a family law solicitor about drawing up a nuptial agreement, or to find out more about the different methods of divorce and separation available, call Frances Lindsay & Co on 01628 634667, or email us at

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