Contemplating marriage or civil partnership is a happy time and thoughts may not turn to the pragmatic aspects of what may happen in the future, especially if the possibility is considered remote. However, a possibility can become reality and preparedness has many advantages, particularly where couples with high levels of net assets are concerned.
What is important for any couple can be crucial for a high net worth couple. High net worth divorces can be extremely complicated and a Pre- Nuptial Agreement can help to protect parties in the event of a divorce. Although they can sometimes evoke a negative reaction, families with significant assets, for example, might consider it an important risk management measure for protecting their financial interests.
A Pre-Nuptial Agreement is a formal document that is settled between a couple before entering into a marriage (or equivalent for a civil partnership) that records their wishes as how their assets would be managed should there be a divorce. They should be considered where it is wished to protect assets accumulated prior to marriage, particularly business or commercial assets, or to preserve assets for children, for example, from a previous marriage.
In Scotland, although the enforceability of a pre-nuptial agreement has never been tested in the courts, it is generally regarded that the courts would uphold an agreement as long as certain precautionary steps were taken when it was drawn up and signed.
There will be specific circumstances as to why a couple is of high net worth. It is possible that one or both parties have already had successful careers or inheritances. It may be that they have had previous marriages and children; or if younger, the assets may be a gift from older family members; or the rewards of celebrity. It may also be that one partner has financial assets disproportionate to those of their partner.
A high net worth marriage can present a complicated picture if and when a divorce becomes necessary. There are many aspects to be considered: businesses, multiple high-value assets, a number of homes, children’s needs and living arrangements. A Pre-Nuptial Agreement can help bring clarity as it sets out what is to happen in the event of separation.
Many families now accept that a Pre-Nuptial Agreement will be important where a valuable family business is at stake. In a high net worth marriage, it is not unusual for senior family members to require the younger ones to secure a Pre-Nuptial Agreement before granting them a share of the family business so as to protect the business in a divorce settlement.
At Miller Samuel Hill Brown we provide clear, expert advice on all aspects of family law. Based in Glasgow City Centre, our family lawyers also help clients in Glasgow’s West End, South Side, Paisley and across Renfrewshire, Lanarkshire and Central Scotland. Let us help you. Please contact our specialist on0141 221 1919 or fill in our online contact form.