Friday, June 30, 2006

Do you need a Pre-Nuptial Agreement?

A Pre-Marital Agreement is an agreement between two people contemplated and completed prior to their marriage which specifies the division of their assets in the event of divorce.


Judges are starting to take them into account but are not bound by them.

There are certain guidelines which will go a long way to ensuring your Prenup has standing:

1. Don't bully your partner into signing!

2. Draw the agreement up as soon as possible.
How soon?
At least 3 weeks but preferably 3 months before the wedding.

3. Both parties MUST HAVE independent legal advice.

4. Reveal everything (about your finances).
Without full financial disclosure it really is worthless because the other party does not know what they are agreeing to. Obvious? Should you be contemplating marriage if you want to keep your financial affairs secret? Do you think she might only be marrying you for your money? Are you good looking, kind, dynamic, thoughtful, romantic, understanding, intelligent, generous, good fun? No, at least one of the above? If not your suspicions could be right.

5. Is it fair?
Come on, that needs no further explanation.

How sound your prenup is also depends on how long your marriage lasts and whether you have any children . Although you could take that into account a la certain celebrity marriages, ie the amount of money she gets increases with each year of marriage. That puts a new spin on the old "we're only staying together because of the dog" approach and is a useful form of pension saving for the wife.

The arrival of children, if not contemplated and provided for in the prenup will seriously undermine an agreement. Sensible and fair.

Anybody considering marriage in England and Wales, and in the lucky position of having more assets than their intended spouse should seriously consider a prenup.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Children and Parental Separation

The first concern of the Courts when couples divorce is the children. Unfortunately not all parents adopt this attitude. The end of their parent's relationship creates a very difficult period for children. Worse, children often blame themselves when their parents separate and divorce. A useful website to help children deal with and understand what is happening to them is

Who the children live with is the first consideration when parents separate. Joint Residence Orders are becoming more common. It is not necessary to apportion the child's time equally between both parents for a Joint Residence Order to be made. In the past Joint Residence Orders were only made where there was a high degree of co-operation between the parents, and consequently were rare, as typically such parents have no need to ask the Courts to settle their differences.

On a practical level it is difficult for children to live out of a suitcase. The best model is for the child to have one home and for the parents to move in and out on a weekly basis. Most people react in horror to this idea but it is a useful illustration of what upheaval children are expected to go through. I remember my own daughter, when she was only six, used to spend every Wednesday night with her father and every other Friday, Saturday and Sunday night. She was constantly forgetting her P.E. kit. In the end her form teacher used to take my daughter's kit home and wash it every Friday as she said she could not bear to see her crying one more time. Do not forget that children need extra help organising their day to day lives when their parents separate.