How to talk about prenuptial agreements: 10 top tips

04 Jan 2017

Although a difficult subject to broach with your respective other, a prenuptial agreement is an essential consideration before the big day. Here's how you can handle the conversation with care

An increasing number of couples in the UK are signing prenuptial agreements to protect their respective assets before marriage. However, prenuptial agreements can create tension because they can raise questions about finances, trust and expectations for the future; as such, prenups can be a difficult subject to discuss with your partner before you marry. Here Withers' family law team suggest some ways to broach the subject.

1. Introduce the idea early

It’s never too soon to talk about prenups, much as you would discuss whether you intend to start a family, or where you’d like to live. Ideally raise the topic before proposing, but if you’re already engaged, bring it up as soon as you can.

2. Use friends as examples

As prenups have become more common in the past few years, making reference to friends or acquaintances who have signed one can make the conversation much easier.

3. Choose your moment

Find a time when your partner is in a good mood and you have time to talk things through properly. Choose a neutral location, perhaps when you’re going for a walk or having dinner.

4. Be straightforward

Your first concern may be to avoid upsetting your partner, but being straightforward is always the kindest approach. Be clear, speak kindly, get it done, and then you can forget about it.

5. Plan together

A frank talk about the future can strengthen you as a couple. Don’t be afraid to raise what you think would be fair in different scenarios, such as if you have children or move abroad, or if one of you comes into an inheritance.

6. Show it’s not personal

Often it is not the individual themselves who is suggesting a prenup agreement and explaining this can help. More and more people with family trusts are being advised to consider prenups and, if the same requirements apply to everyone who marries into your family, it shows that nobody is being singled out.

7. Focus on fairness

Try to keep your initial talk to broad principles on which you can both agree. Where there is a big financial disparity between partners, it’s a no-brainer to get a prenup and many people accept that wealth acquired before a marriage, or inherited from family, should be protected.

8. Offer to cover costs

If you are the financially stronger party, helping your partner to get legal advice shows that you intend to meet their needs. Courts will only uphold a prenup if it’s fair, which means that all parties need to be well advised.

9. Talk the same language

Marriage contracts are common in many European countries, and people there have less difficulty discussing the idea. If you or your partner are international citizens, it may be helpful to talk about the marital property system in your home country.

10. Treat it as insurance

You can explain the need for a prenup in terms of insurance: you insure against burglary not assuming that bad things are going to happen, but to make things as painless as possible if they do.

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