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ok, here goes...should I sign a pre-nuptial agreement?

(32 Posts)
YouHaveBeenOutbid Wed 22-Jan-14 12:00:50

I'm marrying my long term partner next month and he's just sprung this on me. We own a house together, have a joint account for household expenses and both have savings.

He has been to see someone about it and they want sort codes, account numbers and amounts from me. This isn't sitting well with me. My savings are my business and a quick Google about Scots Law (we're in Scotland) tells me they wouldn't be considered as matrimonial property in the event of a divorce anyway.

Would I be mad not to? so as not to dripfeed he has at least 5 times what I have. In general I'm a saver, he's a spender. His money is inherited, mine is saved.

Please don't post if you're of the 'marriage means sharing all assets' opinion as it doesn't mean that to me. I watched my parents divorce acrimoniously and would never put myslef in a position of being financially dependent on anyone.

sleepyhead Wed 22-Jan-14 12:24:47

If your savings wouldn't count in the event of a divorce, why would his (wherever the money originally came from)? What is he trying to protect with this proposed pre-nup?

Or is the inheritance something he's expecting to get in future and he's getting pressure to ensure it "stays in the family"?

I'd be slightly concerned at you wanting to conceal assets from him, same if he was concealing assets from you. It doesn't sound like there's 100% trust on either side. Are you worried that if he knew how much money you had saved he'd want to spend it, or be less careful with your joint money?

UnexpectedItemInShaggingArea Wed 22-Jan-14 12:38:30

Are you absolutely sure you are ready to marry him?

He has 'sprung' this on you - not discussed it to the point where you understand his motives.

You don't want to disclose your assets to him.

You have have very different attitudes to money.

Are you planning to have children? Have you discussed what would happen if you did?

I watched my parents divorce acrimoniously and would never put myself in a position of being financially dependent on anyone.

You may not have a choice (mat leave, ill health) - if you don't trust him to look after you when you are at your most vulnerable then DON'T MARRY HIM.

sleepyhead Wed 22-Jan-14 12:47:43

I agree with UnexpectedItem. The easiest way to be two financially separate people is not to get married.

If you do sign the pre-nup then I'd want to see some provision in it for mat leave/ill health (eg specifically not expecting you to spend your savings on tiding you through those periods when you're not earning without recourse to "his" assets.)

In fact, if you don't sign the pre-nup, and even if you don't get married, it sounds like you have to have a conversation about what would happen if one of you wasn't earning at your current level for whatever reason. I read way too many threads on here where women only have their savings to fall back on during mat leave. That's not financial independence, that's giving someone a free ride.

Domus Wed 22-Jan-14 13:08:33

I agree with Unexpected - Once you're married and especially if you have children you are financially intertwined with them even if not completely dependant. You could for example decide that it benefits the whole family for one of you to dramatically cut their hours or you might decide to take advantage of his inherited money to see the world together meaning you give up your job for a time.

A member of the family on either side may need full-time care which if you are jointly in a financial position to provide you may want to.

It's very hard to live with someone who has a lot more (or less) than you unless you treat everything as a joint asset IMO. i.e. what happens when he can afford a holiday but you can't? He could afford to move to a bigger house but you can't? It needs to be considered joint.

OTOH If he knows you have money that is "yours" and you don't expect to become part of the marriage why should he share his with you?

legallyblond Wed 22-Jan-14 13:15:07

Actually, yes, you should. I act for lots of hight net worth clients and less high net worth ones and always encourage one (I'm not a Scots lawyer though - E and W). In many other jurisdictions its a totally normal, non emotional thing. If he were my client with inherited wealth j would be strongly encouraging it for both of you. It's really sensible, in the same way as making a will is sensible.

PoshPaula Wed 22-Jan-14 13:22:08

I am totally in agreement with your ethos of financial independence, and I believe this can work well in a marriage as it is also a sign of trust - the two of can trust each other to look after your own finances competently without feeling the need to share every penny and justify all spending.

I have had a Declaration of Trust completed by a solicitor in the past when I lived with a boyfriend, to protect both of our assets. It worked well.

In the event of a split or divorce any judge will award what he/she feels is needed to live comfortably and make sure all costs are covered reasonably - a huge inheritance won't be cut down the middle to give both parties the same, as in some cases this could mean, say, a farm which has been in the same family for generations being lost.

I suggest you keep an open mind at this stage and look into what this agreement actually includes. There may be other questions you want to explore - do you both have wills? Is there a property involved, do you have your name on it or a tenants-in-common mortgage etc etc. Why not seek some independent financial advice for yourself, before signing? Your fiance should respect this. If he is suspicious or uncomfortable with that, well maybe you need another conversation!

legallyblond Wed 22-Jan-14 13:27:27

I agree with PoshP. Certainly in the English Courts, the agreement would be basically worthless if (a) you hadn't taken decent independent advice and (b) your circumstances changed (eg re jobs or children or whatever) and the agreement didn't make allowances for that of hadn't been updated following the change... So yes. Enter into the discussion. Get a good lawyer, keep a clear head and just see it as sensibly getting everything in order "just in case". Like I said, I'm totally pro them!!!

PoshPaula Wed 22-Jan-14 13:33:12

Legallyblond is right. A pre-nup or declaration of trust or whatever is not set in stone as of course, circumstances can change. However, it would make it harder to argue about division of assets as you would need to demonstrate reasons why this agreement was signed at that time but is now being challenged - you (or him) would have to make that case.

I would sign if only to protect my assets from him after he's spent his way through his inheritance!

You seem to have totally different views and ideas of money. This is only setting up trouble for future disagreements imo. What if you have children and he still doesn't want to share 'his' money with you?

Get independent legal advice before even thinking of sending his 'advisor' all your bank account details and numbers.

Seriously, if he can spring this on you at the last minute I'd be thinking very seriously if I wanted to marry him, and at the very least be postponing the event until everything is sorted out to your satisfaction

YouHaveBeenOutbid Wed 22-Jan-14 13:55:16

So much to think about.

To answer a few questions:

We had wills drawn up when our son was tiny, more to specify what would happen to him in the event of both of deaths and to ensure he'd be cared for by a specific person and they and he would be left money to make that possible.

"If you do sign the pre-nup then I'd want to see some provision in it for mat leave/ill health (eg specifically not expecting you to spend your savings on tiding you through those periods when you're not earning without recourse to "his" assets.)" I basically spent a huge chunk of my savings to live on whilst on maternity. We continued to split everything down the middle. In hindsight this was stupid on my part, a case of pride getting in the way of being sensible. He should have contributed more, I shouldn't have done that but it's done and I can't change it. We've already discussed that he'd be supporting all of us in the event of any future mat leaves.

He would look after me in the event of ill health and I would him but we both have critical illness policies to make it financially easier on the one left to become a carer.

"It doesn't sound like there's 100% trust on either side. Are you worried that if he knew how much money you had saved he'd want to spend it, or be less careful with your joint money?" YES! Like I said he's a spender! He's already talking about house improvements and I've told him to wait till I can save my half which will undoubtedly be a long time with with 1 child in nursery and me working part time. Working part time has meant living more frugally for me but I see my savings as rainy day money not to be touched. It's not so much a matter of trust, he can be trusted not to spend if money were needed for something important but his general attitude to cash is v different from mine. It doesn't mean we're not compatible but it does mean reining him in sometimes!

"Or is the inheritance something he's expecting to get in future and he's getting pressure to ensure it "stays in the family"? You might be onto something with that one. His parents and grandparents are no longer with us. He has already inherited a substantial amount (property and family business) and will no doubt inherit again in the future when the last of his family goes. His relative may be pulling some strings.

Is the consensus to seek independent advice for myself? I've been kind of hoping it'll all be forgotten but I don't think it's going to be!

tinyturtletim Wed 22-Jan-14 14:00:03

It sounds like if you don't sign an agreement in the future you will end up high and dry..

he also sounds like a bit of an arse about money, I think you need to think very carefully before marrying someone who makes such selfish moves about something so trivial as money.

Domus Wed 22-Jan-14 14:03:00

See, the bit about you saving your share while you work p-t, that's all wrong. If you're working p-t to care for his child/run his home then he should be contributing far more than half

YouHaveBeenOutbid Wed 22-Jan-14 14:08:05

No Domus, we currently contribute a % of our incomes to the household account that mirrors what we now earn now. Whilst I was on maternity leave this was 50% each as that was what we had done while we both worked full time on more or less the same money.

I saw the light eventually ;) He's happy with this arrangement.

PoshPaula Wed 22-Jan-14 14:11:42

I think it is perfectly possible to live happily with someone who has a slightly different attitude to money than you. Money is NOT trivial - it can mean huge problems in life and relationships, I think it's pretty important. You might actually find that a pre-nup or something similar makes you feel more relaxed and secure about things for yourself.

In theory we would all have a terrific caring sharing partners but that hasn't been my experience! Far better to have financial independence and then you can enjoy living together because you want to not because you have to.

tattychicken Wed 22-Jan-14 14:14:15

Does he not contribute towards nursery costs? And you pay half the bills even though you work part time? And you want to marry him?!

AnAdventureInCakeAndWine Wed 22-Jan-14 14:14:34

I would see big red flags in anyone springing something like this on you unexpectedly after he'd already been to "see someone" about it.

A prenup isn't necessarily a bad thing, but it should have been discussed between the two of you when you started planning to get married. His thinking about it by himself, booking an appointment to discuss it with a professional, going to that appointment, and the first you hear of it being when he tells you that he wants your sort codes and account numbers sets my spidersenses tingling.

Badgerlady Wed 22-Jan-14 14:17:36

Absolutely, definitely 100% get legal advice before signing anything. You need a separate lawyer to him.

I have a pre nup. However, DH and I discussed at length whether or not to have one (no springing agreements on anyone) and what it would contain. The actually agreement was drafted through lawyers and we had advice before signing.
.

YouHaveBeenOutbid Wed 22-Jan-14 14:22:50

No tattychicken! I was giving what we used to do and what we do now. See post above.

AnAdventure. He sprung on it (the idea) and then later went to the appointment. I don't know if that makes a difference to appearance of flags but it was presented as something that was going to happen, not a 'should we get one' sort of conversation.

I'm a bit stunned by it all tbh.

MoreBeta Wed 22-Jan-14 14:26:51

Get advice that is totally independent of his advisor.

Get a really good family law advisor, not just some high street bucket shop. Do some research and find a firm that specialises in this stuff.

If he has taken advice so should you. I suspect his family have pushed him into this. Especially if he has significant wealth.

Protecting inherited family wealth is always a consideration where the wealth is substantial. In a way, it makes the two people equal in the marriage. It removes the chance that some one is marrying only for money. Both parties come in agreeing to contribute what they earn/build as a result of the marriage and mutual support of each other (e.g in building careers) not what the one may gain form the others wealth that they had no part in building.

However, that does need to be caveated with a lot of 'what if this happens?' and 'what if that happens?' type questions.

There is one final piece of advice. Don't assume all the wealth he enjoys is actually his. If he is the beneficiary of a trust he may only be entitled to income and that income and not the assets themselves. The income may also be at the discretion of trustees who on the break up of a marriage may well refuse to distribute income.

His circumstances may well be very complex and you will need a very good lawyer to spot potential areas where you may find that in fact he or his family or trustees could make getting any maintenance money very difficult if the marriage breaks down.

Money on good advice now may well save you endless heartache later.

FairPhyllis Wed 22-Jan-14 14:36:54

I don't think there's any guarantee that a pre-nup would be enforced in Scotland.

In countries where prenups are a thing, there has to be a reasonable amount of time for both parties to consider the agreement. And both parties have to have had independent legal advice, otherwise they are generally not enforceable.

Dropping it on you a month before the wedding when everything is already planned doesn't constitute reasonable behaviour imo and would be enough to make me put off the wedding and reconsider marrying at all. I would worry that this would indicate a generally selfish attitude to money that would impact on family life. You say other things that don't give a good overall picture of his attitude to money - you had to use your savings for ML, you are saving for half the house improvements despite working part time.

Do NOT sign anything unless it provides for you in the event the marriage breaks up after you or your children become ill or disabled.

Viviennemary Wed 22-Jan-14 20:22:36

I'm sure I heard that pre-nups are not binding in this country. And assume that applies to the whole of the UK. I wouldn't sign anything. It isn't really a good start all this mistrust over finances. That would be how I would look at it. Of course I don't know about your circumstances but I wouldn't like to get married under this sort of arrangment. I'd just stay single.

legallyblond Wed 22-Jan-14 21:37:55

Scots and England/Wales are separate legal systems. No idea re Scotland, but in E/W pre nups are stronger and closer to being "binding" than they've ever been. Latest case sets out various factors to consider (like separate advicd, full disclosure, changed circs, children, jurisdictions the parties come from etc etc), but provided its all fine really properly, the English court would tend to go with the pre nup agreement unless there were specific reasons not to iyswim. Most good family lawyers, off the back of the latest cases, routinely suggest pre nups if there us any inherited wealth, family trusts etc involved, or if the wealth of each party is quite different.

legallyblond Wed 22-Jan-14 21:39:20

*Provided its all done properly... Sorry! Hate predictive text!

ParsleyTheLioness Wed 22-Jan-14 21:44:54

I probably wouldn't have a problem with it in theory. In the very unlikely event of my ever getting married again, I would want to make things as certain as possible, having worried at one stage that I would lose my home. I would definitely get independent legal advice for yourself though.

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