Posted by Emma McMorrow, Senior Associate
Covid-19: Pre-nuptial agreements and the postponement of weddings
As well as the disruption it has caused to businesses, the economy and every day life for many around the globe, one of the other impacts of Covid-19 has been the postponement or cancellation of weddings.
Marriage in England carries with it financial obligations and upon a divorce, the Court has the power to make financial orders. These orders deal with the procedure of dividing and transferring financial assets between separating spouses, as well as the issue of potential maintenance payments. It is the prospect of being bound by such financial orders that prompts engaged couples to enter into pre-nuptial agreements.
What does a pre-nuptial agreement do?
A pre-nuptial agreement is a document which seeks to regulate the division of assets between parties to a marriage upon any divorce that may follow. Whilst they are not binding in jurisdiction of England and Wales, recent case law does show that the weight attached to these agreements has increased significantly in recent times.
Pre-Nuptial agreements are bespoke and substantial documents which require both expert advice and serious consideration before being entered into. Negotiations can take months so if your wedding has been postponed, this could be the opportune moment to resolve any outstanding issues you may have with the drafting of your pre-nuptial agreement.
How COVID can change a pre-nup
Of course, if you and your partner have already signed a pre-nuptial agreement but your wedding has been postponed or cancelled then you find yourselves in a different situation. The impact Covid-19 has had on the economy means that many people have been furloughed or made redundant. Therefore, it may be that the agreement previously drawn up no longer reflects your financial position or that of your partner and this could impact upon the enforceability of the agreement in the future.
Therefore, if there has been a material change in the financial circumstances of either yourself or your partner, you may consider reviewing and entering into a new pre-nuptial agreement reflecting your current financial position.
Some pre-nuptial agreements contain ‘sunset clauses’ which establish a specific time frame within which that agreement remains valid. Should you be able to re-arrange your cancelled or postponed wedding within the time frame and the document still reflects your current financial circumstances, than a review of that agreement would very likely not be necessary.
However, if your pre-nuptial agreement does set a time frame after which it becomes invalid and you are unable to re-arrange your wedding before that date, then entering into a revised agreement would be necessary if it is to remain valid.
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