Amidst the excitement of their high profile love story, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's impending nuptials spark important conversations amongst the family law community. Up for discussion both in the UK and across the pond has, undoubtedly, been the benefits and details of a royal prenuptial agreement. Briefly, there were rumours of Harry and Meghan entering into one. More recently, the reports from the Palace are that they have followed in William and Kate’s shoes and there will be no prenuptial agreement between the English prince and his American bride.
Meghan must be surprised.
In America, prenups are commonplace with couples freely entering terms before they are married -dealing with everything from who keeps the cat to penalty clauses for gaining weight. It is also far more common to hear reports of bizarre demands and clauses in celebrity pre-nuptial agreements. But in England there is more reticence with prenups being considered unromantic, even offensive. There is also continuing uncertainty as to whether they are enforceable.
There is no law in England which says that if you and your partner sign an agreement about what happens at the end of the relationship, that agreement will be automatically upheld and enforced. However, where an agreement has been freely entered into and is fair, the court should give effect to the terms you agreed.
Broaching the subject and negotiating the terms is frightening and can expose difficulties in relationships. That doesn’t mean they should be avoided. Almost every couple will need to make serious financial decisions together during their relationship so the ability to communicate about money is vital. If the terms of a prenup cannot be agreed, it raises questions about mutual respect and understanding. All of these are issues which need to be worked through sensitively. This isn’t easy when almost everything else you are dealing with in the run up to a wedding if filled with joy and excitement.
Your lawyer can help you work through all of this. The key to choosing a legal adviser is to find one who you actually like and to talk to them about your fears. Ask them how they work and what they do to avoid making a difficult situation worse. You don’t want to check your phone while choosing flowers and find an email from your lawyer saying your partner is being pig headed. It will ruin an experience which you cannot retrieve. You should hear strategies and ideas which will limit communication and uncertainty, while exercising judgement to help you reach an agreement that the court will uphold. And most importantly give you peace of mind.
To discuss a prenuptial agreement, or any other family related matter, contact Zoe Bloom or your usual Keystone lawyer.
This article is for general information purposes only and does not constitute legal or professional advice. It should not be used as a substitute for legal advice relating to your particular circumstances. Please note that the law may have changed since the date of this article.