Our expert family team deals with the full range of agreements, including pre and post-nuptial agreements, pre and post-civil partnership agreements, living together, separation and settlement agreements.
A prenuptial agreement is a legal agreement made between two individuals before they marry.
Prenuptial agreements usually set out how couples wish to divide their assets, liabilities and income if their relationship should break down and end in divorce.
A postnuptial agreement is a legal agreement made between spouses after they marry.
A postnuptial agreement can be used to vary or ratify the terms of a prenuptial agreement or be a freestanding agreement. Couples may also enter into a postnuptial agreement if they marry with a foreign marriage contract and later relocate to England and Wales.
Prenuptial and postnuptial (collectively known as nuptial or marital) agreements are essentially wealth and asset protection tools. They are used to safeguard assets and income, provide financial clarity and certainty, and avoid contentious financial litigation following the breakdown of a marriage. They are flexible instruments which can be shaped to suit the circumstances and needs of each couple.
It is a misconception that marital agreements are only for the rich and famous. Such agreements have become far more commonplace as couples enjoy relationships later in life, having established careers, purchased properties and accumulated wealth, as they enter second or third marriages, either with or without children, and where they have received, or could potentially receive, wealth as a gift from family members, as an inheritance, or as a beneficiary under a trust.
Marital agreements are also useful commercial tools which can protect businesses and minimise disruption for partners and shareholders - in conjunction with corporate documents and agreements.
Civil partnership agreements
A pre-civil partnership agreement is a legal agreement made between two individuals before they register their civil partnership. A post-civil partnership agreement is a legal agreement between civil partners after their civil partnership is registered.
Financial claims on the dissolution of a civil partnership are the same as financial claims on divorce (see Matrimonial Finances), so civil partnership agreements set out how couples wish to divide their assets, liabilities and income if their relationship should break down and their civil partnership is dissolved.
Under the law, as it currently stands, marital and civil partnership agreements are not automatically binding or enforceable in England and Wales. However, these agreements are considered by the family court as part of the circumstances of the case in determining financial claims pursuant to divorce or dissolution; they can carry decisive weight and be upheld by the family court if they are freely entered into by each party, with a full appreciation of the implications, and the terms are fundamentally fair.
A well-informed and carefully drafted marital or civil partnership agreement should be upheld by the court, providing it meets the family’s needs.
Living together agreements
A living together agreement (otherwise known as a cohabitation agreement) is a legal document which deals with property, financial and other arrangements for couples who live together, but who are not married or civil partners.
These agreements usually cover living and financial arrangements during the relationship, and on the breakdown of the relationship and death (see
Living together agreements will become more common as the rate of marriage continues to decline in England and Wales, and our specialist family team has extensive experience in this area.
A separation agreement (otherwise known as a deed of separation) is a legal document which usually deals with financial arrangements for married couples and civil partners who are about to separate or have separated, and who wish to formalise the financial arrangements before commencing divorce or dissolution proceedings, or to remain spouses or civil partners, for religious, cultural or personal reasons.
As family law experts, we advise our clients if a separation agreement is suitable and in their best interests in the circumstances of their case. We also advise them on the status and effect of the agreement if their spouse or civil partner should later seek to make financial claims.
See Matrimonial Finances.
Our specialist family team has a wealth of experience negotiating, drafting and advising on nuptial, civil partnership, living together, separation and settlement agreements - many of which are complex.
We consider our clients’ objectives, support them through the process and provide bespoke agreements that meet the requirements of the family court.
The team deals with both domestic and international agreements involving legalities and assets in multiple jurisdictions. We have established a network of family lawyers, experts and professionals in other jurisdictions to assist our clients. We also assist lawyers in other jurisdictions whose clients require family law advice in England and Wales.
Sheridans has a specialist family team which provides advice in all aspects of family law, within a leading media, entertainment and technology law firm. We understand our clients’ needs for discretion, personal and bespoke advice in order to manage highly sensitive family cases.
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