Payne Hicks Beach

Payne Hicks Beach

Pre-Nuptial Agreements & Asset Protection

"Payne Hicks Beach are arguably the strongest family law firm in the country, providing enviable strength in depth in both financial and private children law areas" Chambers UK

"The best legal team money can buy. Unbelievably thorough, first-class litigators, highly respected in the field. Supremely well connected internationally and ideally placed to help in cases involving multi-jurisdictional issues"The Legal 500 UK

We are experts in the negotiation and preparation of pre-nuptial agreements (“PNAs”). Strictly speaking, pre-nuptial agreements remain unenforceable as a matter of English Law. However, since the landmark case of Radmacher v Granatino in 2010 the case law demonstrates that, if properly drafted, the courts will uphold such agreements. We find that increasingly individuals wish to exercise their autonomy to provide for the financial outcome in the event of their separation, rather than leaving this to be determined by a Judge.

There are many reasons you may wish to enter into a pre-nuptial agreement:

  • It may be the best way to protect inherited wealth or family wealth that is designed to be passed down through generations; 
  • It may be to protect business interests or trust interests;
  • It may be for the financially weaker party to secure an outcome they would feel they would be comfortable with and protected by. 

The English courts have a very broad discretion when dealing with the division of assets on divorce and a PNA can provide you with certainty and comfort as to the outcome and potentially avoids significant legal costs in the event of contested proceedings.

Our team can guide you through the process of negotiating and drafting a bespoke PNA that meets your individual circumstances. We advise that you give thought to the terms of a PNA well in advance of a wedding ceremony, leaving you with peace of mind and the ability to focus upon the celebration of marriage. We offer complete discretion and confidentiality throughout the process and have extensive experience in acting for both domestic and international clients who wish to protect their assets whilst entering into marriage.

Protecting family assets may require the involvement of experts across the firm and we regularly work with lawyers in our tax and trusts teams to provide you with the bespoke advice needed for your personal situation. If your circumstances have an international element, we can work with our extensive contacts in other jurisdictions.

We understand that the concept of a pre-nuptial agreement may be difficult to discuss with your partner but in the long run it can reduce the stress and legal costs involved if you were to separate. Our team can discuss every aspect of the process with you and negotiate on your behalf. We recognise the need for negotiations to be focused, constructive and handled sensitively: we are here to guide you every step of the way.

The family team at Payne Hicks Beach is ranked in Chambers HNW 2021. Quotes include, "they have such a super team of lawyers that are real experts in their field” and "they're really dynamic and energetic." With another source highlighting the quality of the family team: "their family law team is excellent...they are extremely dedicated, extremely hard-working and very results-focused."


Post-nuptial agreements: Your questions answered

  • What is a post-nuptial agreement?
    • A post nuptial agreement is an agreement signed during the marriage by which a couple can reach a consensus on how assets are to be treated in the event of a divorce.  Like pre-nuptial agreements, they are not legally binding but if prepared properly a court is likely to give weight to the agreement in the event of the marriage breaking down.

Pre-nuptial Agreements: Your questions answered

  • Are pre-nuptial agreements only for the very wealthy?
    • Long regarded as the preserve of the wealthy, pre-nuptial agreements are increasingly popular with individuals from all walks of life and in particular where one or both parties have assets that they are bringing in to the marriage that they want to keep separate.  We can consider your particular circumstances and advise you on the most suitable type of agreement for you.

  • Are pre-nuptial agreements legally enforceable?
    • Strictly speaking, pre-nuptial agreements are not legally enforceable. However, since the Supreme Court ruling in the 2010 case of Radmacher v Granatino, provided that an agreement has been properly formulated and is fair then it is likely to be given decisive weight by the court.

Asset Protection: Your questions answered

  • Can I protect overseas assets?
    • An English pre-nuptial agreement can deal with all assets worldwide but there will be special considerations that need to be taken into account if foreign jurisdictions are involved.  It may be necessary to enter into a mirror agreement in another jurisdiction and we can assist you with obtaining advice in the foreign country.

Cohabitation Agreements: Your questions answered

  • Is a cohabitation agreement worth considering?
    • A cohabitation agreement sets out what is to happen to assets in the event that an unmarried couple living together should separate.  It is important to remember that in the UK there is no such concept as a “common law marriage” and a cohabitation agreement can offer both parties certainty and protect their respective positions.  Provided that they are drawn up correctly and properly executed a cohabitation agreement can be legally binding.















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