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Should the head rule the heart this Valentine's Day?

View profile for Victoria Poole
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As we fast approach February 14th, Spring is on the horizon and love is in the air.

Along with Christmas and New Year, Valentine’s Day is considered one of the most romantic times to pop the question and, according to the Chillisauce Marriage Proposal Survey, 23% of women and 12% of men think Valentine’s Day is the best day to propose.

As far as huge life-changing events go, getting engaged is one of the biggest – but after that initial euphoria, celebrations and overwhelming excitement pass, what happens next?

Prenups**: a romance killer or common sense?

For many, we bask in that loved-up glow and throw ourselves into the extensive research and planning to create the perfect day. But how many of us stop to think about what happens after the big day? What about the future?

If you live in America, a prenup is part and parcel of this planning – they’re often the norm and simply considered to be sensible planning, rather like an insurance policy.

But here in the UK, many of us feel a bit twitchy and uncomfortable if we even hear the word ‘prenup’, let alone actually consider the notion of one.

But the reality is that the ONS** estimate that 42% of marriages will end in divorce which suggests it’s possible that you may well part ways before ‘til death us do part’ - so why are we not taking this more seriously?

Why the taboo?

Well, it seems the main reason is down to the unfortunate and largely unfounded stigma that surrounds prenups i.e. that they suck all the love, romance and the very essence of marriage out of the relationship, or that they’re just for the rich and famous to protect themselves from the gold diggers.

But even if you’ve not been married before and divorced, chances are that you’ll have experienced failed relationships. In which case, you’ll know only too well that the initial loved-up giddiness doesn’t last forever. Sometimes, things just don’t work out and sometimes they can get acrimonious and messy.

The key difference in the breakdown of a marriage is that all the pain and heartbreak is often significantly worsened by arguments over children, finances and assets.

What exactly is a prenup?

Put simply, it’s a contract that a couple enter into and agree together before they get married – one which is designed to outline what should happen if their marriage breaks down and ends in divorce.

A prenup creates the opportunity for an honest and open discussion about children, finance, assets and future goals, prior to saying ‘I do’.

And if you’ve decided to marry, your relationship is probably in a wonderful place which makes it pretty much the best time to discuss a prenup without heat or charged emotion.

What happens if we don’t have a prenup?

Once you’re married, ALL collective assets become matrimonial assets and are thrown into a single financial pot.

This means that, in the event of a split, if a couple cannot agree a fair division a judge will decide how all assets and finances are to be divided and distributed. This non-exhaustive list includes properties, savings, investments, pensions, personal or sentimental assets, heirlooms, inheritance…etc.

A prenup details assets each party wants to ring-fence for themselves should the relationship break down, rather than these being regarded as joint matrimonial assets.

This can be particularly important in the case of 2nd marriages, when each party often brings greater wealth and assets into the relationship.

Radmacher vs Granatino

Although prenups aren’t legally binding in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, a landmark ruling in 2010 significantly changed that and the divorce courts now DO take prenups into account as an expression of the parties’ intent. For more detail on the Radmacher vs Granatino case, click HERE

Say yes…and yes again!

There’s nothing remotely embarrassing or fearful about a prenup and it’s important to reconcile that being in love and making practical, sensible choices (for both of you) are not mutually exclusive!

It is possible to say yes to a marriage proposal AND yes to a prenup, without losing any of the romance.

At SH&Co, we can help de-mystify the process and explain how a prenup helps to secure both yours, your partners and your children’s futures.

For a FREE half hour appointment with one of our Family Law solicitors, call us on 01606 48777 or pop-in to one of our FREE drop-in Family Law clinics.

*A pre-nup (prenuptial agreement) should be drawn up at least 21 days before the wedding, otherwise the courts tend to take the view that the closer to the wedding day the pre-nup is signed, the more likely it was that you may have been under pressure to sign. It is also important that both parties seek independent legal advice when drawing up a pre-nup.

** The Office for National Statistics.