Gay marriage pre-nups: do you need one?

Ideas It won’t be the most romantic part of your planning, but if you’re getting married then it’s worth thinking about whether you’d benefit from drawing up a pre-nuptial agreement, or pre-nup for short. You’ll be planning your wedding with tons of optimism and certainty, so it’s hard to think about the possibility of a divorce.

However, if the worst comes to the worst, you can potentially save yourself a lot of trouble with a pre-marital agreement to work with. Pre-nups often get associated with very rich people, or couples where one is far richer than the other, but pre-nups are employed by a huge variety of couples. Now that lesbian and gay marriage is legal, it’s important to talk about the possibility of lesbian and gay divorce.

But… even if the worst did happen, do you personally need one? ‘What’s mine is yours’ is the phrase you imagine going hand-in-hand with marriage, but if things go south, you may well realise all too late that you had assets that you really think should remain completely yours.

For example, if your grandparents left you their house, which you now rent out to tenants, would you be okay with half the value and rent income going to your partner? Your viewpoint probably depends on a few factors: Did your partner help redecorate the house? Do they help with landlord duties? Did they know your grandparents? And so on. A pre-nup can protect such assets from being split in the event of divorce, or can stipulate how they are to be split.

It doesn’t all have to be focused on a gloomy possible future though: you can use pre-nups to define arrangements within the marriage, such as how much of the rent or mortgage is paid by each of you, or how holidays will be financed. If done right, a pre-nup with such details can make both partners feel more secure, not just the more affluent one.

So what’s the alternative of a pre-nup if a marriage breaks down? Well, for many couples going through divorce without a pre-nup, one partner will apply for a financial order against the other.

Normally, the less well-off partner would apply in order to gain their share of marital assets, and the court would determine exactly how much the applicant is entitled to. This could then be paid out in the form(s) of a lump sum, property ownership, regular maintenance payments and a share of pension payments.

This process can result in additional pain, a fair amount of hassle and, of course, significant legal fees.

Sure, it’s not free to draw up a pre-nup (expect to pay around £1,500 in total), but it could help you both avoid a far more costly court visit altogether if done right.

And, while not (yet) legally binding in the UK, if you do go to court, a lot of weight will be given to a pre-nup if certain conditions are met; the key requirements are that the agreement should be signed 28 or more days before the wedding and that both parties should receive specialist legal advice and disclose their finances before signing.

It can be tough to be the one to bring up the subject of a pre-nup, and in fact it may be best (at least initially) to avoid using the specific term. Talk about security, dignity and certainty because these are things an agreement can help maintain.

Be honest about your priorities and expect the same from your partner. If you’re better off than your partner, offer to pay all legal fees too, as a goodwill gesture.

If you do go ahead, keep your shared principles at the heart of any decisions and ensure you’re both fully informed and aware of the implications of all of the contents of the agreement.

Even if you don’t decide to go ahead with a pre-nup, you will have had an important conversation and will have made a conscious decision about it.

Planning for every event isn’t sexy, but by knowing your options you can pick the one that best suits you and your partner, and then get right back to the more fun parts of wedding planning!

For many couples, it seems that broaching the subject in the first place is the hardest part.

If you’ve taken this step, how did it go? How did you do it? Share below and help your fellow brides and grooms!


Tags: pre-nup, legal, planning, marriage, advice, relationships

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