Many couples are now choosing to enter into agreements prior to setting up home together either as spouses or as partners. A pre-nuptial agreement is a formal agreement which defines how a couple will manage their assets during their marriage and determine how they will be divided if the marriage or civil partnership fails. They are particularly helpful to couples whose assets at the beginning of the relationship are unequal or where either of them wishes to protect their own property or finances for the benefit of children they have had from a previous relationship.
A judgement was made in October 2010, by the Supreme Court in the case of Radmacher vs Granatino. This judgement clarifies their status and paves the way for these agreements to become more mainstream. The judgment is clear that pre-nuptial agreements are presumed to be enforceable except where they lead to unfair outcomes. Any arguments about unfairness are to be left to the courts to decide.
With second marriages on the rise, people marrying later, and many couples entering marriage with money and property already to their name, it is likely that there will be more and more demand for pre-nuptial agreements.
Post-nuptial and post-civil partnership agreements may be entered into by couples who have already married or are in a civil partnership as a way to prevent stressful and costly disputes should their relationship turn sour.