Lawyer reveals divorcing couples’ biggest fears in 2024
How a prenup can make for a happier new year
Rachel Spencer Robb explains how divorce enquiries often increase in the new year, and how preparing a prenup in advance can help the process run more smoothly.
As a family lawyer who supports all types of couples through divorce, ranging from high-net-worth individuals dividing complex assets through to couples trying to agree on issues arising from their children or even pet care arrangements, there are several points in the year when enquiries spike.
These often follow school holidays when couples and families have spent prolonged amounts of time together. Christmas is certainly one such occasion, with the stress, expense and perhaps even the in-laws all creating the perfect storm, and this can widen the cracks in a fragile relationship.
As a result, January is always one of our busier months. Even though some enquiries are simply people exploring their options, or from those looking for guidance on how to save a marriage or civil partnership, for some people Christmas proves to be the final nail in the coffin for their relationship.
For many, the 'no-fault' legislation introduced in 2022, which means married couples can now divorce without assigning blame, has made the process more straightforward.
However, the popularity of prenuptial agreements, also known as prenups, has helped divorces run more smoothly nowadays. These are now a big part of our work for those entering both marriages and civil partnerships.
More and more couples recognise that it's sensible to consider the possibility of the relationship breaking down and organise things from a legal perspective from the outset.
Until recently it would predominantly be our high-net-worth clients that came to us for prenups. Typically, these people have businesses, numerous properties, substantial inheritances, family heirlooms and all types of other assets.
Nowadays though, in addition to our high-net-worth clients, we create prenups for all types of couples. They're particularly popular with those who have already been through a divorce, who might want to protect what they fought for the first time round or preserve inheritances for their children from a previous marriage.
Crucially, a well-written prenup that has been produced by an experienced solicitor in good time will pave the exit strategy out of a relationship and reduce lots of unnecessary stress and arguments about money. Often the prenup will also keep the divorce out of court, but if it does end up in front of a judge, they will consider a professionally written document that is broadly fair.
However, if the agreement is poorly drafted or if circumstances have changed significantly since its creation, a court may choose not to enforce it, so prenups can need amending in the same way that you update a will.
In most cases managing the process from the outset and thinking about the potential worst-case scenario of a relationship breakdown with a prenup offers a fast, slick and cost-efficient way to finalise the end of a relationship, so you can start the new year as you mean to go on.
How can Rachel help you?
Rachel Spencer Robb is a partner and head of our family law team. She specialises in the financial aspects of family law, advising on the protection of wealth and the impacts of separation and divorce.
If you need help drafting a prenup or advice on any of the other issues raised in this article, contact Rachel on 01943 885 790 or at ku.oc1708768422.fcl@1708768422bborr1708768422ecnep1708768422sr1708768422