It was announced yesterday that Prince Harry has become engaged to US actress and star of TV show Suits (Rachel Zane), Meghan Markle.
With the wedding predicted to take place in May 2018, there is much speculation about whether Prince Harry and Meghan Markle would or should enter into a pre-nuptial agreement prior to their marriage.
Currently around 50% of marriages end in divorce.
What is a pre-nuptial agreement?
A pre-nuptial agreement is a contract. It can be used to regulate the division of assets upon divorce or death.
Are pre-nuptial agreements enforceable in Scotland?
Although pre-nuptial agreements are untested in the Scottish courts, Scotland has long recognised that people should be able to enter into contracts as they wish. Pre-nuptial agreements are therefore valid in Scotland and the courts may take one into account provided that it was fair and reasonable at the time it was entered in to.
Why have a pre-nuptial agreement?
The most common desire is to protect assets owned prior to a marriage; or assets that are inherited or gifted to one party so that they remain the property of that person and do not go into the matrimonial pot for division. The division of such assets are often the subject of contentious and bitter arguments in a divorce, with much time and money being spent arguing about how these assets should be divided fairly. A pre-nuptial agreement can exclude such assets from the equation. They provide a degree of certainty. Without a pre-nuptial agreement, the statutory provisions apply leaving scope for parties and lawyers to argue about it.
Should they or shouldn’t they?
Pre-nuptial agreements often criticised as being unromantic or as being indicative that one does not love or trust their partner enough. In my opinion, pre-nuptial agreements encourage a couple to be honest and upfront with one another about their financial situation and their expectations for the marriage in a responsible and realistic way.
“You mean more to me than anything in the world and I need you to believe me…” Rachel Zane, Suits.
Not just where marriage is in contemplation…
With cohabiting couples now having limited rights to make a financial claim when the cohabitation comes to an end, a pre-cohabitation agreement can be entered into in the same way as a pre-nuptial agreement. For more information on pre-nuptial agreements please contact Blackadders Family Law team.