Are prenups worth the cost?
Summer is that time of year when the finishing touches are being put to engagement or marriage plans. We also find that many people’s thoughts turn to what might happen if the marriage were to break down unexpectedly. Our team of family solicitors has been busy for a number of months dealing with the many enquiries we receive at this time of year for prenuptial agreements. Everyone wants to know how much they cost, do they work and are they worth the expense?
I always encourage my clients to look at what they are getting for their money. I have yet to meet anyone who has gone into a marriage hoping it will end but if the worst does happen unexpectedly, a prenuptial agreement can provide much greater certainty on the outcome of any divorce. Whilst prenups are not automatically legally binding, they are highly persuasive and the press has reported on many cases in recent years where the courts have upheld the prenup terms. And the reason for this is simple – the law is clear that, if you sign up to a properly prepared prenuptial agreement before a marriage, you must be absolutely willing to be held to it if the marriage ends. For those with wealth to protect, a prenup can guard against, not only the effects of a shock divorce in the early years of marriage, but sometimes even a divorce later in life.
Divorce can be expensive for two reasons. Firstly, one party may be required to pay a lot of money to the other spouse. That can be a particularly difficult pill to swallow for those whose wealth was created or inherited prior to the marriage.
Secondly, legal fees can easily mount up if the couple finds it difficult to agree on financial arrangements and court proceedings are started. For most people going through divorce, every pound they pay to the lawyers is a pound lost to their future or their children’s future. So for many, the prospect of avoiding a hefty lawyer’s bill is very important.
For the cost of professional legal advice for each spouse and having a properly formulated prenuptial agreement prepared, you could well save hundreds of thousands of pounds in legal fees on a divorce and even more in the final settlement. You could also short circuit the divorce process by many months.
As with most things there is a wide difference in the cost of preparing a prenuptial agreement. Some lawyers will offer an off the shelf product costing one or two thousand pounds. However, I wouldn’t recommend them because, quite simply, you get what you pay for.
I would always advise consulting with a specialist family solicitor. The process of actually preparing the prenuptial agreement itself and the written advice to go with it is usually between £5,000 and £10,000. That may sound like quite a lot of money, but a prenuptial agreement works much like an insurance policy – you hope that you will never need it, but will be glad you bought it if you do.
The team of family lawyers at Cripps is committed to helping clients to plan for the unexpected. For more information contact Alex Davies on 01892 506326 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
First appeared in the July 2017 edition of Inside Kent.