Couples in Scotland should consider the option of making pre-nuptial agreements before taking their wedding vows, rather than risk a lengthy court battle if it all goes wrong, according to one of the country’s top family law firms.
Gibson Kerr says that although most couples don’t want to think about the negatives when they’re planning their big day, they should consider the extra security that a pre-nup will make in the event of a future marital emergency.
The firm highlights statistics showing that one in three marriages in the UK ends in divorce – and says it that the stats show that making a prenuptial agreement is a prudent, rather than depressing, option for people planning to get married.
Fiona Rasmusen, partner at Gibson Kerr, said: “Pre-nuptial agreements are viewed with a lot of caution and scepticism by many couples, as they’re seen as an admission that you think something is going to go wrong with your marriage. Most people who are about to get married just don’t want to think that anything bad will happen in the future.
“However, the stats show that one in three marriages is likely to end in divorce, so it’s a sensible step to consider a pre-nuptial agreement. You may think that you’re admitting defeat but, in reality, you’ll actually be making a wise financial move to safeguard yourself if the worst happens.”
The firm advises couples to consider whether a pre-nup could be beneficial for them and to discuss the best way of setting up such an agreement – especially in cases such as when one partner wants to protect the needs of their children from a previous marriage, or if they want to safeguard any property intended to be bestowed on their children.
Other examples highlighted when pre-nups can be beneficial include: “ring-fencing” or preserving inherited wealth for future generations, safe-guarding any assets acquired before your marriage and protecting private business assets.
Fiona also says that couples should talk to each other about the option of making pre-nups well in advance of their wedding date, so they have plenty of time to decide if these agreements are right for their situation.
She added: “No-one likes to think about the worst case scenario when they’re planning their wedding and broaching the subject with your partner can be the hardest part in the whole process of making a pre-nup. However, by sitting down and discussing how the agreement will help protect both your assets, as well as avoiding uncertainty in the future, you will be able to highlight the benefits rather than the negatives.
“Remember that the earlier you discuss the subject, the better – and bear in mind that both parties have to be given the opportunity to take proper and full legal advice before signing.
“If you think a pre nup is right for you, it is very important to make arrangements early so that things are not left to the last minute just before the wedding. A spouse who is asked to sign a pre nup at the last minute may be able to argue later that it was unfair due to the pressure of the situation.
“Another important thing to remember is that you should not try to set up a pre-nup yourself. Although there are many websites offering knock-down rates for “DIY” pre-nups and it’s tempting to try and save money by trying to fill in the paperwork yourself – particularly if you have the expense of a wedding to think about – it is not worth the risk.
“You shouldn’t fall for the cheap option when securing your future. Always get legal advice from an expert, who will be able to show you the correct way of drafting a prenuptial agreement.
“A good family law firm will give you impartial advice on whether a prenuptial agreement is right for you and, if so, what the best way is to set one up. A law firm will also ensure you to disclose all assets to your future spouse – a vital step, as the failure to disclose assets properly will result in the defeat of a prenuptial agreement at a future date if it is challenged.”
Gibson Kerr is a family-run law firm that has been established in Edinburgh for more than 100 years. It has an excellent reputation for providing a comprehensive service encompassing both property and personal law, including powers of attorney, executries and wills.