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Boom in prenups as post-COVID wedding numbers look set to soar

The UK is facing a wedding boom over the next 18 months and a renewed interest in prenuptial agreements. Partners in our Family team comment.

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UK Weddings Taskforce, a trade body representing the wedding industry in a report in January 2021 estimates that some 824,000 weddings are planned in 2021 and 2022, following 95% of weddings planned for 2020 postponed following the COVID pandemic.  

And says Collyer Bristow, the spike in weddings is being matched with a renewed interest in prenuptial agreements.   

Toby Yerburgh, Partner and Head of Family said: “A wedding is one of life’s great moments and bitterly disappointed couples had little choice but to delay the start of their new lives.   

“But as those plans are revisited and wedding celebrations prepared, we are seeing a renewed interest in prenuptial agreements as part of financial planning for a life together.”   

A prenuptial agreement is an agreement between a couple that sets out a fair financial arrangement should the marriage or civil partnership dissolve. Whilst historically the preserve of the rich and famous, prenups are now increasingly seen as sensible financial planning by couples wishing to protect pre-acquired assets, business interests, property, an inheritance and children from earlier relationships  

“Prenups, like a will, provide couples with security, clarity and certainty in the future for both parties,” adds Yerburgh.   

The delay in wedding plans, changes in circumstances as a result of the COVID pandemic, and increased sophistication in the management of personal financial affairs are, says Collyer Bristow, the drivers behind this renewed interest in prenuptial agreements.   

“Individuals want certainty for their future, whatever that might look like,” says Tanya Roberts, a Partner in the Family team at Collyer Bristow. “They want to know that family wealth, business interests or property bought to the marriage benefits both parties but remains safe should the relationship fall apart. A prenup simply looks to provide reassurance.”   

For a prenup to be effective, couples must consider and prepare well in advance of their wedding day. Delays caused by COVID are providing that window.   

“Prenups are not legally binding on the courts but are likely be taken into consideration should certain conditions be met,” explains Roberts. “The financially weaker party cannot be forced into accepting a prenup, and the provision in that prenup must be fair. That will mean both parties taking independent legal advice and providing full financial disclosure.” Parties signing a prenup should assume they will be bound by it.  

Collyer Bristow recommends individuals consider a prenup at least three to four months before their wedding day  

“The courts are likely to give less weight to a prenup if signed within 28 days of the wedding,” says Roberts. “In those instances, individuals will usually be advised to consider a post-nuptial agreement as well, signed after the wedding.” 

This article was originally published in eprivateclient.

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