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prenuptial agreements in England and Wales

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Why it's time for 'silver prenups' as marriage rate increases among over-65s

With figures indicating a steep increase in marriage among the over-65s, Maeve O'Higgins explains why it's sensible for these couples to put in place a prenuptial agreement to be fair to their current partner and preserve their assets for children from previous relationships.

Statistics published by the ONS for the period 2009-2014 and reported in The Guardian (here) have highlighted the increase in the number of marriages of opposite-sex couples aged over 65 (marriage for same-sex couples was only introduced in England and Wales in March 2014, so is not statistically significant in these figures.)

The increase in the number of ‘silver’ marriages runs contrary to the general decline in marriage among younger couples, probably because of the increase in the number of cohabiting couples (including those who go on to get married later on) and the rise in the average age of those getting married (37 years for men and 34.6 years for women) for opposite-sex couples in 2014; with slightly higher average ages for the same-sex couples who got married that year (39.5 years for men and 36.9 years for women).

Many of the couples getting married later in life have been married before and/or been in previous long-term relationships; many have adult children by previous marriages, or long-term relationships. Many of these couples also have assets, acquired before their relationship with their spouse to-be, that they wish to ring fence and preserve for the benefit of the children of their previous marriages, while at the same time being fair to their current partner.

It should be possible to meet these expectations, involving a carefully drafted prenup coupled with wills, providing for a life interest in property for the surviving spouse, which then reverts to the children of the previous marriage/relationship on the death of the surviving spouse.

The circumstances of a more mature couple are likely to be more stable and settled than that of the younger couple in their mid/late 30s embarking on marriage, whose future circumstances are much more difficult to predict at the time of negotiating a prenup.

While not yet legally enforceable, a prenuptial agreement is likely to be effective in limiting or preventing a claim by one spouse to share all the other’s assets and resources, in the unhappy event of a future divorce, so long as the financial needs of both spouses are met by the terms of the agreement.

Negotiating such an agreement, so long as it is dealt with in a careful and sensitive way, can be a helpful way of exploring each partner’s attitude to financial matters since mutual financial disclosure (along with legal advice for both partners) is a necessary part of the process of negotiating a prenup.

Having a prenuptial agreement should therefore be considered by mature couples, in good time prior their marriage.

Maeve O’Higgins (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) Tel: 020 7539 4133
Family Law Partner Moon Beever

This blog is intended for general information only and should not be considered as giving advice in relation to any individual case nor be taken as applying to any particular case. No liability is accepted for any such use of the information contained.