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A pre-nup is a positive step, not an early admission of failure

Melanie Bataillard-Samuel calls for pre-nuptial agreements to be seen in a new light

The end of the summer holidays traditionally sees a spike in divorce proceedings as people acknowledge that the long-awaited annual break has only amplified certain cracks and now is the time to move forward a situation that, sadly, is irretrievable. The same often seems to be true following the brouhaha of the Christmas holidays.

This, combined with the usual press coverage of high-profile celebrity divorces, such as Roman Abramovich and his third wife, ending up in court and you can understand why, despite the wedding season having barely passed, a certain cynicism creeping in around the whole process of marriage.

According to our family lawyer Melanie Bataillard-Samuel, being practical about marriage, however, does not mean that the romance is missing.

“Too often, mention of a pre-nup causes raised eye-brows and is considered an admission of failure from the outset. In reality, it would be better to see a pre-nup as a fair, down-to-earth legal tool to protect everyone’s interests at the beginning of a wonderful journey,” she says.

“This is particularly true of increasingly common second and third marriages, such as Abramovich’s, when people are more likely to have built up a level of financial independence outside the marriage which deserves consideration.

“All things considered, it’s time to re-evaluate the pre-nup and to encourage more people to embrace the security of setting things in order right from the start.”

Melanie’s advice includes:

Why consider a pre- or post-nuptial agreement?

Agreements are worth considering if:

  •  You are bringing assets into the marriage.
  • You have the benefit of a Trust Fund.
  • You have significant pension provision now or in the future.
  • You are considerably better off than your other half.
  • This is your second or third marriage.
  • You have children from a previous marriage/relationship and you wish to protect their future.

According to Melanie, both pre- and post-nuptial agreements serve to set down what should happen to the assets of the spouses in the event of a divorce. In England and Wales, these sorts of agreements have recently become more acceptable to the courts, but this will depend upon the individual circumstances of the parties such as needs and contribution.

The courts will try to uphold agreements so long as certain safeguards are put in place, i.e.,

  • Financial disclosure is undertaken when negotiating the agreement.
  • Both parties have independent legal advice on the agreement.
  • And, in the case of pre-nuptial agreements, it is signed no later than one month before the wedding.

Other ways to protect your assets

Although pre- and post-nuptial agreements are the most obvious way of trying to protect assets, they are not the only way. Husbands and wives should consider all possible options such as trusts, deeds of trust, waivers or simply how they govern their finances during their time together.

Our advice to couples planning marriage is to talk through with a solicitor all the options open to them as soon as they book the wedding!


For further information, please contact:
Kerry Jack or Nicola Pearson at Black Letter Communications or  020 3567 1208

Notes for Editors

Hodge Jones and Allen

  • Hodge Jones and Allen is one of the UK’s most progressive law firms, renowned for doing things differently and fighting injustice. Its managing partner is Patrick Allen, recently awarded a lifetime achievement award by Solicitors Journal.
  • For 40 years’ the firm has been at the centre of many of the UK’s landmark legal cases that have changed the lives and rights of many people.
  • The firm’s team of specialists have been operating across: Personal Injury, Medical Negligence, Industrial Disease, Civil Liberties, Criminal Defence, Court of Protection, Dispute Resolution, Employment, Family Law, Military Claims, Serious Fraud, Social Housing, Wills & Probate and Property Disputes.
  • In 2016, the firm launched Hearing their voices – a campaign to raise awareness and build conversations around the issues and the injustices we might all face.