Elizabeth Hicks explains why a pre-nuptial agreement, completed collaboratively, could be a strong foundation for a happy and long-lasting marriage.
Back in the 1960’s the Beatles sang that ‘All You Need is Love’, and that was a piece of wisdom commonly handed out to those about to get married back then. Almost everyone aspired to marriage, people tended to marry young, and divorce was uncommon. Now, people are less likely to ‘fall into’ marriage than they used to: individuals and couples tend to think more carefully about its consequences, about what it means, and whether it’s the right choice to make. Financial considerations often form a significant part of the decision-making process.
There are three broad categories of people who come to see me looking for help with a pre-nuptial agreement:
- young people with a background of significant family wealth who are seeking a solution to protect assets from any eventual fall-out on divorce;
- people who have been married before, or are older, and are seeking to ensure that their children or grandchildren are provided for appropriately whatever happens in their new marriage; and
- ordinary, commercial people who understand that the workings of the English law on divorce can be unpredictable and perhaps undesirable, and wish to make their own rules about what would happen to their finances in the event of a later separation in order to know where they stand from the outset.
Whatever the reasons people have for seeking to work out a pre-nup, the perception is often that it’s done by each person talking to a family law solicitor about it, and then the solicitors writing to each other to negotiate the terms of the agreement. It’s true that in some cases this is still how it’s done, but collaborative law offers a much more positive option for working out what you want in conversation rather than correspondence, with a constructive and expert lawyer by your side working as a team with your fiancé and their lawyer. At Creative Divorce, we care about finding solutions that protect your interests and minimize the prospects of problems later, and work hard with you to achieve them.
Not only do we help with formulating appropriate, tolerable agreements about financial outcomes should the worst happen to a marriage, but as part of the process we are used to encouraging couples about to embark on married life to discuss their attitudes to financial matters such as investing, spending, charity, earning and debt, as well as wider life goals and expectations that are relevant to a shared financial future. Properly investigating these things at the outset creates firm foundations for a lasting marriage and can make it less likely that you’ll end up in my or my colleague’s office later.
You might not believe it, but many family lawyers are really old romantics!