Blog: Saying “I Do” To A Pre-nup
Jackie McRae is head of Pagan Osborne’s family law team based in Edinburgh.
As the wedding season waltzes into full swing in a cloud of tulle and confetti it may seem downright unromantic to mar the preparations with legal considerations.
But a little practical thinking in advance can spare a whole lot of heartache and headaches later if the fairytale doesn’t end happily.
These days, saying “I Do” to a pre-nuptial agreement isn’t only the prerogative of the rich and famous. More and more couples are taking a common-sense view and planning for the future – just in case the unthinkable does happen.
Scottish legal company Pagan Osborne says couples should view a pre-nup as an insurance policy, which will ultimately look after both parties in the event that they split up. This means that decisions about what happens after the relationship ends are made in a loving, rather than contentious, frame of mind.
“People take out insurance against all sorts of things – wedding mishaps included – and, though you hope you’ll never have to use it, it is a comforting safeguard should anything go wrong,” says Jackie McRae, head of Pagan Osborne’s Family Law team.
“Any couple committing to living their lives together should consider the legal and financial implications of their union - not just to protect themselves as individuals but to look after each other throughout their relationship and beyond.”
While some may see a pre-nup as a mechanism to protect one party’s interests at the expense of the other’s, Jackie argues that thinking in advance about what each person considers tobe a fair outcome if things were to go wrong between them, is actually a very caring act.
“When a relationship ends it is a difficult and stressful period which can involve many strong emotions. This can make it difficult to see clearly and make effective decisions about the future.
“But if a couple has already worked out, in a loving atmosphere, what they would like to happen if their partnership fails, then that shows a real commitment to each other. It may also make arguments further down the line less likely.”
The key is to formalise these wishes in a binding agreement. This could set out how assets should be treated if one partner enters the relationship with much more than the other, or, if there are different levels of contribution to the purchase of a shared property, how the funds from a sale of that property would be shared.
“It’s really a question of considering what options are available and suit each couple’s requirements best – and then taking legal advice to ensure the paperwork fully meets those individual requirements. Far from being unromantic, it gives you both security and peace of mind, ensuring you both enter into your new life together on a clear footing.”