Forget the 'pre-nup' - record numbers of couples signing 'post-nup' agreements

'Post-nup' deals
'Post-nup' deals

Forget 'pre-nup' agreements, record numbers of couples are signing trendy 'post-nup' deals, according to family lawyers.

And the increasing number of wealthy foreigners moving to Britain may be behind the "post-nup" boom that has seen the numbers of such arrangements quadruple over the last five years.

A post-nuptial agreement dictates how a married couple's assets are distributed following a split and, unlike a pre-nuptial agreement, can be undertaken at any time after the marriage has taken place.

As with pre-nups, post-nups aren't legally binding in this country yet.

But legal experts say they are admissible in court and will be taken into account as long as the document has been voluntarily agreed, caters for at least basic financial needs and legal advice has been sought.

Law firms have seen a surge of interest in post-nuptial agreements, citing spouses who increasingly want to protect themselves against the likelihood of an unexpected change in their lives.

Leeds-based Lake Legal has reported a 50 per cent rise in inquiries about post-nups over the past 12 months and the highest ever drawn up in the firm's history.

Lyn Ayrton, managing partner of Lake Legal, said: "I've already done more post-nups this year than any other.

"What we are typically seeing are spouses who are able to use a post-nup as a means of safeguarding the lives they, and in some cases their children, have come to enjoy.

“Peace of mind”

"A well-executed post-nup can provide the ultimate safety net for a spouse and provide financial peace of mind should the marriage breakdown."

She believes one reason for the boom in post-nups is the growing number of rich foreign nationals moving to Britain with their families.

Ms Ayrton said London has established itself as the 'divorce capital of the world' largely due to English law's attitude towards the non-wealth-creating spouse - typically favouring the wife in those cases - leading to a growing number of multi-million pound divorce payouts.

She said, historically, pre-nups have been criticised for undermining the institution of marriage whereas post marriage that doesn't apply as much.

Ms Ayrton said: "It's often said that pre-nups take the romance out of a marriage and that it can be a cold and calculating process to undergo at what should be one of the happiest experiences in a couple's relationship.

"Whereas with a post-nup there is none of that. A couple may have been married for many years and mutually decide this is an added form of protection should the worst happen."

She said law firms increasingly have clients asking for a post-nup to help keep their marriages together.

Ms Ayrton said: "There has been a noticeable year-on-year increase in the number of clients we have acted for entering into post-nups.

"I'd say it has probably quadrupled in the last five years or so."

She said Lake Legal already receives numerous approaches each year from couples interested in pre nuptial agreements - with many instigated by the parents of the couple.

Ms Ayrton added: "For many families a divorce would not only impact on the couple themselves but also their wider families, especially where there are family run businesses and potential inheritances at risk"