There’s been a large rise in the number of married couples using ‘prenups’ over the last 20 years, according to a new survey.
The survey, carried out by Savanta ComRes for the Marriage Foundation, found that one in five couples married since 2000 have some form of a pre-nuptial agreement in place.
This compared to just 1.5% who were married in the 1970s, 5% in the 1980s and 8% in the 1990s.
Prenuptial agreements, or prenups – are legal arrangements signed before a marriage that
are intended to plan for the division of assets should that marriage fail.
Harry Benson, the Marriage Foundation’s Research Director, said: “They are no longer a legal curiosity or quirk associated with the mega-rich and famous but appear to becoming an integral part of getting married for large numbers of couples. This seems particularly true for high earners and where there might be substantial assets before the start of the relationship.”
The survey found that prenups were most likely among couples who attended some form of marriage preparation class and were not associated with higher levels of divorce.
Sir Paul Coleridge, founder of the Marriage Foundation, said: “Since about 1990 and
especially since 2010 when the Supreme Court in the Granatino case gave their use its seal
of approval, prenups have been creeping into the English divorce law landscape.
“Couples who take time to confront potentially tricky financial (or other) issues before they marry are less likely to be derailed by them if and when they arise. It can be a sensible part of pre-marriage prep.
“Similarly with the increasing age at which couples marry, either for the first or second time, it is more
likely that one or other will have established wealth which they feel they want to protect. If
marriage is to retain its appeal to future generations couples of all ages should be allowed
to fashion a bespoke level of financial commitment which suits their own circumstances and
not be forced to rely only upon the state designed model.
“If one can make arrangements by will to cover the distribution of wealth on death, couples should have similar freedoms when providing for the possible premature termination of their marriages if they so wish.
“The one size fits all state model is not necessarily attractive to all and can be productive of
huge, expensive and destructive legal wrangling on divorce.”
Mr Benson concluded: “Prenups do not appear to be akin to organising the divorce in advance. If anything the direction of travel is that they may even be slightly protective of marriage.”
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