Looking for financial protection?
There are many reasons why you may want a postnuptial agreement. A postnuptial agreement can give financial protection and peace of mind. Partner, Robin Charrot has substantial experience in prenuptial agreements and postnuptial agreements and Evolve Family Law has the legal expertise to support you with your postnuptial agreement.
Looking after you
It takes a special kind of family solicitor to negotiate a postnuptial agreement. You need to balance creating a postnuptial agreement that includes a financial settlement that is fair to both husband and wife and ensures that the lawyers don’t create unnecessary conflict whilst looking after you and protecting your best interests. It is a balancing act that the experts at Evolve think they have broadly mastered.
Listening to you
Whether you are looking for a postnuptial agreement to protect trust distributions, lifetime gifting made as part of family estate planning or because of changes in your family business, we will listen to what you want out of your postnuptial agreement and help you to achieve your goals.
Why choose the family law solicitors at Evolve Family Law?
Louise Halford and Robin Charrot founded Evolve Family Law. They are family law solicitors dedicated to helping couples make informed choices reach amicable agreements wherever possible. They are firm believers in being proactive and that’s why Robin and Louise are both strong advocates of the benefits of prenuptial and postnuptial agreements.
Postnuptial Agreements – Your Questions Answered
Who should sign a postnuptial agreement?
Postnuptial agreements are the same as a prenuptial agreement but signed after marriage.
Postnuptial agreement solicitors are often asked who should sign a postnuptial agreement. The answer is that a postnuptial agreement should be considered by anyone anticipating a change in personal or financial circumstances. A postnuptial agreement may be a sensible option if one or both of you:
- Is a business owner or holds shares in a family company
- Is a beneficiary of a discretionary trust fund, whether or not the fund is making income or capital distributions
- Is likely to inherit money
- Is likely to receive substantial gifts from parents or extended family as part of their inheritance tax and estate planning
- Have parents who want to transfer their family home to their children
- Have been married before or have children from previous relationships. This is especially important if you didn’t get a financial clean break order from your former husband or wife
- Would like a measure of certainty about how assets will be shared in a divorce settlement and want any split to be amicable and civilised.
The best advice is to ask whether a postnuptial agreement is likely to be of benefit to you. As specialist postnuptial agreement solicitors, Evolve can tell you whether a postnuptial agreement would be a good idea and advise you on your options. A postnuptial agreement prepared by specialist postnuptial agreement solicitors is just sensible planning, in the same way as making a will or signing a power of attorney.
What’s the point of a postnuptial agreement?
Postnuptial agreements are drawn up during a marriage to record an agreement over the division of family assets if you separate in the future. The agreement is intended to limit financial claims if a married couple separate or divorce to an agreed amount (or a percentage of all or some of the assets) or to ring fence specified assets, such as inherited money or shares in a family business. The postnuptial agreement is intended to give you both peace of mind so that you both know where you stand financially.
What happens if we don’t sign a postnuptial agreement?
If you don’t have a postnuptial agreement then if you separate either one of you could make financial claims. The divorce settlement claims could include assets owned prior to the marriage or inherited money or family lifetime cash gifts. Without a postnuptial agreement in place these assets are more vulnerable because the start point for dividing assets on divorce is that everything should be split equally. The eventual Court outcome might be more or less than fifty percent depending on needs, length of the marriage and many other factors. Prenuptial and postnuptial agreements are a sensible option as they try to limit such claims.
The costs of sorting out a divorce settlement is likely to be higher if you don’t have a prenuptial agreement or postnuptial agreement in place as one or both of you may feel angry or hurt at the time of separation and therefore not able to agree on a fair split of assets.
What is essential for a postnuptial agreement?
There are three essentials for a postnuptial agreement:
- Financial disclosure
- Independent legal advice
- The postnuptial agreement is fair to both of you and meets your needs.
My spouse doesn’t know how wealthy my parents are. If I sign a postnuptial agreement, will I have to say what my parents plan to give me?
This is often a quandary for people whose husband or wife doesn’t know about the existence of family wealth or trusts. For a postnuptial agreement to carry weight the two of you need to know what the other has or may get in the future, for example as a result of a gift, legacy or trust distribution or the planned transfer of shares in a family business. This is because in order to come to an informed agreement you both need to know the other’s circumstances.
Do I need a postnuptial agreement solicitor?
Yes, you do. If a husband or wife doesn’t get their own separate legal advice from a family law solicitor then the postnuptial agreement will carry less weight. The agreement is an important legal document, and just in the same way that you need a solicitor to sort out the preparation of your will or a power of attorney, you both need an expert family law solicitor to advise you on your postnuptial agreement.
Many married couples are fearful about raising the topic of a postnuptial agreement and of asking specialist family law solicitors to get involved with the drawing up of the agreement as they don’t want disagreements with their spouse or extended family. That is totally understandable. The job of a specialist postnuptial agreement solicitor is to make you aware of what can go in the agreement, what may be good options for you and to sensitively finalise an agreement that works for both of you .
My spouse doesn’t want any of the money my parents are giving me if we split up. Can the postnuptial agreement say that?
The postnuptial agreement can say that but, depending on yours and your spouse’s financial circumstances it may be in your interests for the agreement to record that your spouse will get sufficient to meet their needs. This is because even if your husband or wife knows how much you are worth, and has their own postnuptial agreement solicitor, the agreement has to be fair and meet both of your needs.
A postnuptial agreement ringfencing the gift of money may be OK if you are only married a very short period but if you have children together or enjoy a long marriage the postnuptial agreement may not be considered to be fair and therefore carry less weight. An agreement is still appropriate as it limits the financial claims. That is why it is important to get specialist postnuptial agreement advice on what should go in the agreement so that the document is as effective as possible in protecting family wealth.
The family company shares are owned by me. Do we need a postnuptial agreement?
When a couple get married, a husband or wife is automatically entitled to make financial claims on separation, including claims over property, shares, investments, cash, pensions and the family business. They can also claim spousal maintenance.
This means sole ownership of shares in a family business doesn’t protect you or the business from claims on divorce. A postnuptial agreement can stop or limit those claims. A shareholder agreement can be drawn up to regulate how the company operates and shareholders work together. Whether your husband or wife is a shareholder in the company or not the shareholder agreement won’t stop a spouse from being able to bring financial claims on divorce. A carefully prepared postnuptial agreement can complement the shareholder agreement and help protect a family business.
Do I need a postnuptial agreement as I am named as a beneficiary of a trust? Does the trust protect the family money?
A trust is a means of protecting family wealth but it is only one protective measure. Most professional trustees recommend that a beneficiary of a discretionary trust fund should also sign a postnuptial agreement prepared by specialist postnuptial agreement solicitors. The agreement can record that any trust money is ring fenced and any trust distributions protected from any divorce settlement claims.
We own property abroad. Do we need a postnuptial agreement in the UK as well as where we own the property?
Possibly. A lot depends on where the property is owned. Robin Charrot is a Fellow of the International Academy of Family Lawyers; the world’s leading organisation of expert international family lawyers. Robin works with specialist prenuptial agreement solicitors and postnuptial agreement solicitors in different countries when there is potentially a need for more than one agreement to ensure you are protected.
My spouse isn’t a British citizen. Where should we sign a postnuptial agreement?
If your husband or wife isn’t a British citizen then where you need to sign your postnuptial agreement needs some thought and expert legal advice. The advice will depend on where your spouse is from, any additional overseas ties and other factors.
In some family situations couples elect to sign mirror agreements to cover the possible multiple jurisdictions because of international connections or wealth. In any situation where there is any possibility of a choice of different jurisdictions it is vital to get expert advice from family law solicitors. Not doing so could have a tremendous impact on whether or not the postnuptial agreement is effective and the cost of a divorce settlement.
We have a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement but circumstances have changed. Do we need to do anything?
Possibly. In much the same way as wills are changed or insurance cover reviewed it is always best to periodically consider if a prenuptial agreement or a postnuptial agreement needs to be changed. Evolve Family Law solicitors can look at your agreement and check that it still meets your needs.